KOTA KINABALU: The State Government will maximise the use of technology and  innovation to improve productivity, competitiveness and development of the palm oil  sector. 

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Hajiji Haji Noor said growing progress in the palm  oil sector and improvement of infrastructures as well as government incentives provided  excellent business opportunities for industry players to venture into the downstream  sector. 

Sabah has nine palm oil refineries with a processing capacity of 7.48 million tonnes per  year while two biodiesel factories are operating to produce 300,000 tonnes of biofuel per  year, he said. 

Speaking at the Sabah Transfer of Technology (TOT) Exhibition and Seminar at Sabah  International Convention Centre (SICC) here today, Hajiji said the State Government has  developed two strategic locations namely the Lahad Datu and Sandakan Palm Oil  Industrial Cluster (POIC). 

The POIC was set up as an integrated hub providing investment opportunities in the  downstream sector and port to support the export and import activities of palm oil. 

Construction of the Pan Borneo Highway connecting Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei and  Kalimantan, Indonesia would also help enhance connectivity and transportation efficiency  including for oil palm products, he said, adding that the Indonesian capital’s move to  Eastern Kalimantan would create economic spillovers to Sabah. 

For this reason, he said the State Government allocated RM65.97 million to the Industrial  Development Ministry including the Department of Industrial Development and Research  to empower the state’s industrial sector development. 

During the 12th Malaysian Plan (12MP), a total of RM116.67 million was approved for the  Industrial Development Ministry to cater to the development needs in the Kota Kinabalu  Industrial Park, Lahad Datu POIC and the Sipitang Oil & Gas Industrial Park (SOGIP). 

The Chief Minister noted that the collaboration between the Ministry with the Malaysia  Palm Oil Board (MPOB) in organising the TOT Sabah 2022 provided room for entrepreneurs and investors to venture into commercialisation in the palm oil downstream  sector. 

The technology offered by MPOB ranges from food product formulation to oleochemical  and biomass products as well as green energy produced by refineries. 

“I am confident that the involvement of local companies in the technology  commercialisation of the palm oil industry will generate revenue and contribute to the  development of the entire industry,” he said. 

Hajiji pointed out that the development of an oleochemical factory has huge potential as  far as the downstream sector development is concerned since there is none in existence  in Sabah and Sarawak. 

Apart from virtually not having any competitors in Sabah, investors in the oleochemical  sector could also be rest assured of a consistent supply of raw material in the form of  palm oil, which is more environmental-friendly and at competitive cost compared to other  raw materials, especially petrochemical. 

He was also heartened to note two Sabah-based companies have partnered with MPOB  to produce value-added oil palm-based products. 

The joint venture between MPOB and Sabah Softwoods Hybrid Fertiliser Sdn Bhd had  resulted in the production of GanoEF bio fertiliser to control Ganoderma disease in oil  palm. 

The other was the joint venture between MPOB and the Sabah Sustainable Oil Palm  Planters Cooperative Consortium to commercialise the technology of oil palm-based  cleaning products, the first in Sabah. 

“It opens up opportunity in the development of oleochemical through the production of  basic elements for cleaning and personal care products as well as industrial for the local  and export markets,” he said. 

Hajiji said the State Government’s door is always open to domestic and foreign investors,  as well as those interested in building a win-win partnership between the public and  private sectors, particularly in the commercialisation of oil palm-related technology.