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Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries holds 2nd small holders outreach webinar towards promoting good agricultural practices



The Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) recently held a webinar to highlight the importance of promoting good agricultural practices of small holder farmers in the Asia Pacific, Central Latin America and Africa. The CPOPC provides a platform for smallholder networks to share their experience and knowledge and learn from each other.

Addressing these opportunities through a webinar, was Kepson Puspita, a representative of oil palm smallholders from Papua New Guinea, Djono Albar Burhan, a representative of the oil palm smallholders in Indonesia and Dupito D. Simamora, CPOPC Deputy Executive Director.

A panel was assembled, consisting of eminent personalities from all areas of the palm oil cultivation process – planters, business and academia – to provide views, opinions and assessments of the global palm oil cultivation landscape. The speakers presented all topics relating to smallholder sustainability, sharing real stories, real-life issues and experiences. The webinar showcased a number of good agricultural practices that can be implemented in Sri Lanka, going forward, and presented a number of reasons as to how the cultivation of palm oil can be sustainable, environmentally friendly, boost national growth, and ensure further economic stability.

Sharing his expertise on palm oil production In Indonesia, Djono Albar Burhan from The International Relations and People Development Department in Indonesia-Oil Palm Smallholder Association, touched on the benefits to smallholders through good agricultural practices. Looking at the economic and welfare impacts of Palm oil production in Indonesia, Burhan stated that Indonesia consists of 16.38 million hectares with smallholder farmers owning a big percentage of palm oil land. Palm oil is a big player, relied on by millions of people across Indonesia, contributing to 3.5% of their GDP, significantly improving the rural economies. He further stated that in October 2019, the price of Fresh fruit branches (FFP) was USD 0.11 per kilo for smallholders in average, and as of October 2021, the price increased up to USD 0.20 per kilo, thereby positively affecting smallholders allowing them to further implement good agricultural practices.

Burhan spoke of the smallholder program managed by the Government of Indonesia, which provides 30 million rupiah per hectare to smallholders across Indonesia for a replanting program to switch from old palm oil trees to new ones. He mentioned that the benefit of the replanting program is that it is integral towards increasing the implementation of biofuels, which in turn requires an adequate supply of fresh fruit branches (FFB). In a bid to increase domestic palm oil consumption, the Indonesian government’s usage of biodiesel entered the B30 phase in 2018. Currently ‘B30’ absorbs 10 million of CPO, therefore, to reach B40, increased productivity of smallholders is required. Another important agricultural practice Burhan spoke of is followed by smallholders in Indonesia, which is improving the intensification versus the extensification. Intensification has a huge potential to increase palm oil yields by optimizing production and productivity without opening more land for cultivation. Addressing these needs creates a huge opportunity to produce more palm oil through an intensification program.

Also sharing his experience, Azmi Hassan – Deputy President of National Association of Smallholders Malaysia touched on the role of supply and demand in palm oil cultivation contributing towards economic growth.

Hassan explained that the development of palm oil in Malaysia is strongly supported by the government and is based on a policy that helps small holder farmers improve their welfare in turn reducing poverty levels in the country. Smallholders are given a small plot of land as part of an organized model financed by the government allowing them to start palm oil production.

He further mentioned that in order to increase the oil palm yield, good planting material is required for then which you will obtain a good FFB which you can sell to the mill and obtain the maximum oil which in return increases sustainable power production. All smallholders operate under a licensed model which they have to buy from the licensed nursery operator. He highlighted that in Malaysia there are 840 industry operators licensed under MPOB and under the licensing regulation nursery, important legitimacy of land is a requirement.

Sharing his expertise on good agricultural practices, Hassan emphasized on the importance of good fertilizer practice which in turn ensures good agricultural practices. For this, soil conservation needs to be carried out to ensure efficient fertilizer usage thereby reducing soil erosion and sludge deposit in ditches which in return result in water contamination due to pesticides. It is important to use fertilizer recommended procedural agricultural practices to obtain maximum benefit and minimize nutrient loss. Further, in Malaysia, zero manning practices and the policy on those common practices by smaller connected under the national environment act no burning is permitted.

The next webinar organised by CPOPC “Smallholders- Drivers of Prosperity and Sustainabilty” will be held on 14th December 2021 at 3pm CET. The Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) aims to continue engaging the palm oil industry to present the importance and benefits brought about by palm oil cultivation, including the empowerment of smallholder farmers and the securing of the livelihoods, thereby reducing poverty by enhancing the national GDP. Highlights of the speeches focused on the development of sustainable palm oil in Sri Lanka, emphasizing the need to provide support for oil palm smallholders from stakeholders which include the Governments of palm oil producing countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia. The forum was organized with the intention of sharing the voices of the small holder farmers who are the fundamental players of the palm oil industry, thereby allowing for other countries to adopt such practices.

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SL’s hard default status impacts CSE negatively



By Hiran H. Senewiratne

The CSE slipped in the first hour of trading yesterday after opening over 2.0 per cent up due to SJB lawmaker Dr Harsha de Silva informing that Sri Lanka has now become a hard default country with the failure to pay loans raised from other countries, stock market analysts said.

Sri Lanka’s impending default on US $12.6 billion of overseas bonds is flashing a warning sign to investors in other developing nations. Besides surging inflation is set to take a painful toll. The current petrol crisis has driven the CSE to negative territory, analysts said.

Following the previous day’s momentum, the market opened the day gaining over 2.28 per cent or 192.88 points. Amid those developments, the All- Share Price Index slipped 0.39 per cent or 40.44 points and S and P SL20 went down by 7.76 points. Turnover stood at Rs 3.5 billion without a crossing.

In the retail market top seven companies that mainly contributed to the turnover were; Expolanka Holdings Rs 1.1 billion (8.86 million shares traded), Browns Investments Rs 585 million (66.7 million shares traded), LOLC Finance Rs 527 million (49.5 million shares traded), Softlogic Life Insurance Rs 169 million (2.3 million shares traded), Softlogic Holdings Rs 145 million (16.3 million shares traded), LOLC Holdings Rs 116 million (210,000 shares traded) and Lanka IOC Rs 87.1 million (21 million shares traded). During the day 268 million share volumes changed hands in 33659 transactions.

The country’s manufacturing and services sectors suffered a sharp dip in April as per the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) compiled by the Central Bank.

The manufacturing PMI decreased by 21.4 points as against March whilst the Services PMI was down by 7.5 points. CBSL said the Manufacturing PMI declined significantly in April 2022, following the seasonal pattern and indicating a contraction in manufacturing activities on a month-on-month basis. This would impact the manufacturing and services sector counters in the stock market, analysts said

Sri Lanka’s commercial banks quoted Rs 364 for the dollar against telegraphic transfers yesterday while the Central Bank set a daily guidance rate for interbank spot trade for Rs 359.65 plus or minus Rs 2.50.

Banks could quote Rs 2.50 plus or minus under the new direction and the rate is set below the market rates. The kerb rate has also eased after spiking last week.

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ComBank’s ‘Anagi’ partners with insurance companies to offer affordable insurance to female customers



The Commercial Bank of Ceylon has announced it has partnered with several insurance companies to offer special Life and General insurance products with unmatched low premium rates exclusively for women customers, under the Bank’s ‘Anagi Women’s Banking’ portfolio.

Extending the scope of the Bank’s services to support this segment, the insurance cover comprises of Life insurance, Business insurance, and Home insurance options, the Bank said.

Besides the special premium rates that apply, the insurance can be obtained via an extremely simplified process, and can be extended to the spouses of women customers. The Bank said the scheme is expected to promote financial inclusion, one of the primary objectives of the Anagi Women’s Banking portfolio, through insurance protection.

The policy value of the Life insurance cover provided under this scheme ranges from Rs 1 million to Rs 5 million and covers eventualities of ‘natural and accidental death’ of the life assured during the policy period.

Under this Life insurance facility, a female customer of Commercial Bank between the age of 18 and 45 can sign up for a Rs 1 million policy by just paying an annual premium of Rs 1,100. The spouse can obtain the same policy for Rs 1,500. Women between ages 46 and 65 can opt for the same sum assured with an annual premium of Rs 2,200, if the policy is taken for themselves, or Rs 2,750, if the policy is taken to cover the spouse. The cover can be purchased at multiples of the unit rates of Rs 1,100 or Rs 2,200.

Quoting the 2020 report of the Insurance Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (IRCSL), the Bank said these are incredibly affordable life insurance policies for women, considering that the average sum assured in Sri Lanka is only Rs 1.4 million for which long term insurance policyholders pay an average annual premium of Rs 28,655.

Commercial Bank’s female customers who become life insurance policyholders under this scheme are also entitled to value added services such as access to free fitness classes conducted by leading online fitness provider Fitzky, and a 15% discount on consultations at any ‘My Dentist’ clinic, the largest dental clinic chain in Sri Lanka.

In addition to the life cover, business women can also benefit from a Business Insurance under ‘Anagi.’ It offers protection against fire or lightning, explosions, malicious or aircraft damages, a series of natural disasters, burglary, acts of terrorism and commotions among other incidents. The policy covers losses to buildings including permanent fixtures, fittings, machinery, stocks, cash, and personal property of the policyholder and the cost of workmen’s compensation, hospitalisation, loss of rent, removal of debris, architect’s, surveyor’s, and engineer’s fees due to damage or accidents, and damage to service lines, to name a few. It also includes Personal Accident cover for employers and employees in the event of death or permanent disability, as well as legal liability cover.

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LOLC General Insurance named Best General Insurance Company of the Year



Ushan Goonawardane, Chief Strategy Manager, LOLC General Insurance accepting the award in Kolkata, India from Sudhin Roy Chowdhury, a Jury Member.

The 3rd Emerging Asia Insurance Awards 2021, recognized LOLC General Insurance PLC as the ‘Best General Insurance Company of the Year’ amongst the top Insurance companies nominated from South-East Asia. The evaluations were done by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the multinational professional service network and the event was held ceremonially on the 30th of April 2022 in Kolkata, India.

The Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) initiated the Emerging Asia Insurance Awards to acknowledge, honour and to recognise the efforts made by the emerging Asian Insurance companies while creating a platform for them to discuss their common challenges and its ramifications effecting the Insurance sector.

PwC performed the groundwork for the awarding body in reviewing and assessing the applicant profiles. The selection of awards comprised of several criteria and PwC has evaluated the audited financial data (for the last three financial years) of the applicants. Performance on Technical Reserve to Net Premium Ratio, Combined Ratio, Top Line Growth, Shareholder Capital, Number of complaints received, Claim Settlement Ratio and Investment on Training were assessed in gauging the winners.

LOLC General Insurance PLC is a subsidiary of LOLC Holdings PLC, which is one of Sri Lanka’s largest and most diversified conglomerates with operations in 20 countries in Asia and Africa. LOLC General Insurance PLC is currently one of the fastest growing Insurance companies in Sri Lanka and owns 45% of Serendib Micro Insurance PLC in Cambodia. The company has evolved into one of the country’s leading insurance providers of today, in a relatively short period of time.

During the last few years the company continuously streamlined their processes and achieved greater coordination between different units of the company to implement a customer centric approach. The organisation is committed to continuously improve its overall processes, efficiency and relationships to serve the customers better.

During 2021, LOLC General Insurance recorded a premium income growth of 19.2% which was the highest growth recorded by a mid/large sized company in the General Insurance industry and reported paid claims to the tune of Rs. 2.5 billion. LOLC General Insurance has always maintained an undisputed and unsurpassed reputation for speedy settlement of claims. The amount of money provided in lieu of claim reimbursements during the last financial year itself, reflects the company’s commitment to timely claim settlements.

Commenting on the remarkable achievement Chief Executive Officer of LOLC General Insurance, Mr. Kithsiri Gunawardena said “It’s indeed an honour to be adjudged by PwC as the Best General Insurance Company of the Year at the Emerging Asia Insurance Awards 2021 organized by the Indian Chamber of Commerce. Winning the award among Pan-Asian giants this year is all the more precious to us due to all the challenges faced globally as well as within our island nation. I wish to take this opportunity to thank our untiring staff who are key in the success of the organisation and of course our invaluable customers who we strive to give the best service at all times. We will continue to provide innovative risk solutions and create value to our customers, employees and stakeholders!”

LOLC General Insurance aims to help the customers understand and to manage the risks they face, be it individual, family or business. The company works hard to offer the customers a range of products and services coupled with expert support. The solutions assure protection against numerous risks and support all classes of products in the General Insurance space. The organization is supported by Swiss Re, one of the largest reinsurers in the world.

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