R & D has been one of the reasons for the success story of the oil palm industry. There have been many improvements, amongst others, in the agronomic practices, yield, control of pests and diseases, increase labour productivity, plantation management, and mill efficiency.
However, the industry faces many issues and challenges, especially in going into this millennium. Yield gaps between national, estate, experimental and theoretical yield are still wide. Level of mechanization is still low and field operation efficiency is still meager compared to annual oil crops. Only 10% (oil) of total dry matter is being utilized annually and only a small portion of other dry matter (lignocelluloses) is being used economically. Some producing countries have acute labour and land shortages, raising cost of production, inefficient smallholdings and competition from other oils and fats. The industry is also facing many barriers, both trade and non-trade, especially from the environmental groups. There is a need for the industry to continue its eco-friendly and practice sustainable agriculture activities.
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