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Ruler: Industry 4.0 tech lagging in palm oil sector

TheStar Tue, Jul 16, 2019 07:40am - 4 months ago

KUALA LUMPUR: With many measures already in place to ensure greater sustainability for the palm oil sector, more can and must be done, including boosting productivity through the application of new technologies and innovations, says the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah.

He said this holds much promise in economic as well as environmental terms, whether from genetic breakthroughs, the discovery of new processing methods or uses, or the achievement of greater efficiency in existing production and distribution processes.

“Although investment in research and development has continued, there have been far fewer breakthroughs in recent years and yields have been more or less stagnant for decades.

“The considerable efforts being put into the development of genetic characteristics to facilitate harvesting, such as slower growth for example, have yet to come to fruition,” he said in his royal address during the ninth International Planters Conference 2019 here yesterday.

Sultan Nazrin said even in the absence of any major leap forward, there are many other sources of improved productivity that can be tapped within existing technological boundaries.

The Perak Ruler added that potential can be seen in the large gap between the average yield of around 20 tonnes per hectare annually and what is deemed possible by industry plant breeders of 35 or even 40 tonnes.

He stressed that more attention should be given to the question of how these much higher yields can be achieved throughout the sector, and that smallholders would again require particular attention and support.

“Apart from a few exceptions, the application of the recent wave of technological advances associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution is significantly lagging in this sector.

“Other new technologies will prove equally transformative and innovation in the sector should be encouraged and supported as much as possible, in order to exploit the full potential of the current wave of technological advancement,” Sultan Nazrin said.

He added that the use of sensors and the Internet of Things (IoT) to achieve far greater precision in the application of chemicals, along with the use of drones for delivery, promises to have a revolutionary impact on the efficiency of chemical usage, which bodes well for the environment and the bottom line.

The recent advances in remote sensing technologies also strengthen environmental monitoring and boost efficiency.

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