• Plantations;
  • sustainable;
  • palm oil


The Malaysian oil palm industry is one of the most highly organised sectors of any national agriculture system of the world. Today, though, the focus has shifted to how well agriculture also meets universally accepted standards of sustainability. This paper highlights the development of oil palm cultivation and responsible farming practices in Malaysia, the world's largest producer of palm oil. The oil palm has had a natural head start in fulfilling sustainability indicators due to its plant physiology of high productivity and efficient carbon assimilation. Over the last 50 years, R&D activities and technological advances have helped raise yields and reduce inputs, thereby maximising oil production from a smaller land area than used for other food crops. Palm oil is now a major source of sustainable and renewable raw material for the world's food, oleochemical and biofuel industries. Involvement in cultivation or downstream activities has uplifted the quality of life of people, a key plank of the sustainability platform. In particular, this has helped alleviate poverty among landless farmers in Malaysia. Industry players have recently joined hands with other stakeholders to pursue certification of sustainably produced palm oil with full traceability. Also being explored are measures to conserve forests with high value and the wildlife population.