Iranians in KL on palm oil fact-finding mission

BANGI, Selangor: Malaysia's palm oil exports to Iran plunged 42.1 per cent to 447,058 tonnes in 2014 from 635,258 tonnes in 2013, said Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.

"Iran cut down in its palm oil purchase and this was due to recent restrictions and discriminatory policy against palm oil," he told reporters after receiving a courtesy call from the Iranian Members of Parliament here yesterday.

The Iranian delegation was lead by Iranian Parliament head of Education and Research Commission Mohammad Mahdi Zahedi. 

The Iranian lawmakers were here to find out the facts and figures of palm oil nutrition and discuss ways to reduce trade imbalance between the two countries.

Uggah said he plans to meet up with Iran's Health Minister Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi sometime soon. 

The Iranian government had reportedly cast doubts on palm oil nutrition and mistakenly equated saturated fats in palm oil to the deadly artificial trans fat found in hydrogenated soft oils.

Uggah said he has tasked the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) and Malaysian Palm Oil Council to carry out joint research on edible oils nutrition, of which the Iranians can verify for themselves what are factual and what are myths.

On another note, Uggah said a new standard operating procedure on curbing the crime of stealing fresh fruit bunches (FFB) in Sarawak would be implemented from next month.

"The police will take a more serious approach in enforcing against FFB theft. We view this seriously as it affects investors confidence and result in loss of tax collection to the government," he added.

About 250 cases of stolen FFB in Sarawak were reported in 2013, causing tens of millions ringgit in losses in the oil palm industry.

Last year, the MPOB issued 278 compounds and at the same time, terminated three business licenses and suspended 24 others, while imposing eight compounds on those found abetting pilferage of oil palm fruits.

It also issued six warning letters to those found guilty of such wrongdoing.