Sime Darby, the Malaysian palm oil giant which already operates across Malaysia and Indonesia, will move into Africa with a RM70 million (US$23 million) new plantation in Libera, starting April.

The company is the world’s largest palm oil producer and has Malaysia’s second largest market cap at RM47 billion ($15.4 billion). Its 63 year concession in Liberia, if developed fully, would result in a total 220,000 hectares (2,200 sq km) of new plantations, a huge addition to the 5,000 sq km of plantations Sime Darby already operates in Malaysia and Indonesia. The first stage of the Liberian project will be 10,000 hectares.

Malaysia and Indonesia together make up 85% of the world’s palm oil production, with their produce used globally in processed foods, toiletries and biofuels. The industry on the whole, however, has suffered an image problem in recent years with environmental groups claiming it destroys the habitat of endangered species such as orang utans by clearing forests for new plantations. Companies have repeatedly disputed the claims and Sime Darby says it is committed to responsible development, claiming its operation in Africa will allow it to introduce its industry best practices to a new region.

source & article: Channel NewsAsia