MALAYSIA’S government expects to boost palm oil production by 20% by 2020.
Speaking at the 8th International Planters Conference in Kuala Lumpur, plantation industries minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said government measures would boost average yield to 6t/ha in 2020 from 5t/ha today, The Star reports. This would result in an extra 10m t of palm oil per year worth more than RM20bn, the national newspaper adds.
Uggah said measures had been implemented to replace old and unproductive trees, that would lift palm fruit production to 26 t by 2020 from 20 t today. He also called for industry to adopt greater mechanisation to increase the productivity of harvesting the fruit. He added that new enforcement measures would ensure ripe fruits were delivered to palm oil mills in a bid to boost oil production.
“As chemical and process engineers, we can actually do more in palm oil milling activities to improve oil extraction rates,” Hong Wai Onn, chair of IChemE’s new Palm Oil Special Interest Group, tells tce. “For instance, optimising temperature and water dilution for separation processes can greatly help to maximise oil recovery.”
He says that it is difficult to get chemical engineers to work in palm oil mills, due to lower rates of pay compared to the oil and gas industry, and due to the remoteness of the facilities.
He adds that more chemical engineers can be attracted to the sector if palm oil mill operators increase pay and work with universities to raise awareness among students about how their skills in process control, heat transfer and mass balance can be directly applied to and benefit the sector.