The Palm Oil Industry Association of Sri Lanka (POIASL) held its 4th AGM on the 24th of November 2022, at the JAIC Hilton in Colombo. High Commissioner of Malaysia to Sri Lanka and Maldives – His Excellency Dato Tan Yang Thai, and the Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia, Her Excellency Dewi Gustina Tobing, stakeholders, including cultivators, refiners, processers, manufactures marketers and sellers, and invitees from private and public institutions were present at this event. The AGM voted to extend the same executive committee’s tenure for another year to make further developments towards accomplishing its mission. The Executive Committee of the Association is made up of senior executives within Sri Lanka’s palm oil industry, and the POIASL’s primary focus is improving Sri Lanka’s economic crop diversity through a competitive, resilient, and sustainable palm oil sector.
Discussions at the Association’s AGM also touched on the unprecedented challenges encountered by the Sri Lankan economy in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, followed by the fertilizer ban and the false myths surrounding the consumption of palm oil. Despite these challenges, there is hope on the horizon as the POIASL has strategically designed a blueprint to navigate the local economic crisis, while simultaneously fighting misinformation via awareness campaigns. Palm oil is versatile and budget-friendly for consumers, allowing the industry in Sri Lanka to expand on its potential which is not currently being utilized to its full capacity. However, in positive anticipation of support to eliminate the ban on palm oil, along with international support and advice from the Indonesian and Malaysian Embassies, and the Indian High Commission, there is a promising future for this industry in Sri Lanka
Emphasizing that allowing the palm oil industry to expand in Sri Lanka can only be beneficial, President of the POIASL, Dr Rohan Fernando said, “The imminent rescindment of the ban on oil palm cultivation in Sri Lanka will provide our country with an opportunity to further improve its macroeconomic position and increase self-sufficiency with regard to edible oils, while paving the way for increased export revenues from coconut oil, and eventually oil palm itself. Liberalization will also empower smallholders and transform rural economies at the same time. We must look to build synergies with the media and the Asian Palm Oil Alliance to build awareness, and rely on our Malaysian and Indonesian friends, through their missions here, to realize the promising future that oil palm cultivation holds for Sri Lanka, ultimately strengthening our own economy and creating value for Sri Lanka and the world.”
Delivering the key note address Her Excellency, Dewi Gustina Tobing, Indonesia’s Ambassador to Sri Lanka said, “Palm oil has characteristics that are not readily replaceable. Global demand for palm oil is steadily increasing, and the industry is both environmentally and economically sustainable, and is a golden opportunity for Sri Lanka to improve its edible oil self-sufficiency, while strengthening its export sector, and we are willing to help our Sri Lankan friends in this. On this special occasion, based on the positive facts and advantages of the palm oil industry, I would like to encourage all stakeholders to support the development of oil palm plantations and the industry in Sri Lanka, as palm oil shall remain the world’s leading vegetable oil for years and decades to come.”
Her Excellency further added, “I believe that main palm oil producing countries, such as Indonesia and Malaysia, are pleased to assist the Sri Lankan palm oil industry with knowledge and best practices to support the development of the industry, while improving the economic standing and quality of life of the communities involved in the plantations. It is important to empower farmers in Sri Lanka through the ‘smallholder model’, as such initiatives will enhance the quality of the livelihoods of the farmers involved in the agriculture sector. Collective measures by palm oil producing countries are indispensable. Collaboration, cooperation and partnership are the keys.”
The AGM of the POIASL concluded with a pressing emphasis on the immediate need to rescind the ban on oil palm cultivation, which the industry believes will be achieved shortly, while renewing its commitment to create awareness and make factual information readily available to the public.