ECER to Integrate Cattle Rearing, Oil Palm Estates

December 27, 2007
KUALA LUMPUR: Plans to integrate cattle rearing and oil palm plantation in the East
Coast Economic Region (ECER) will provide dual income to oil palm farmers and create
6,000 new job opportunities for the region, said Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB)
director general Datuk Dr Mohd Basri Wahid.
Out of the 6,000 job opportunities, some 4,000 jobs could be created in upstream
activities such as tanning, meat processing, and feed milling, he said.
In a statement issued by the ECER Secretariat yesterday, Basri said in general, the
project would also help develop the country’s small- and medium-sized industries as well
as increase the country’s beef production that currently met only 23 per cent of the
nation’s demand. The national target is to expand the cattle population to 1.49 million
heads by 2010.
According to the Secretariat, by rearing cattle in oil palm plantations, implementation of
the project could also be speeded up as cattle graze on existing agricultural land without
requiring the opening up of new areas.
It said a herd size of 100 breeding cows and five bulls integrated systematically in 400ha
of oil palm plantation had the potential to increase to a herd of 263 heads.
Citing industry experts, the Secretariat said integration was a good alternative for
farmers to gain additional income and maximize their oil palm land usage, and farmers
needed to fork out marginal investments in the project as the cost was relatively low.
As such, the industry expert said the rate of return was quite “attractive” with low
investment rates and other benefits that include low cattle mortality rates of below 5%,
low maintenance, and relatively high internal rate of return of between 20% and 45%,
with reduction in cost of between 20% and 35%.
In the same statement, Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute’s
(MARDI) researchers and expert on cattle, Dr Johari Jiken Abdullah, said the open
pasture method, which is practiced in countries like Australia, was not economical here
due to the long gestation period of between 10 and 15 years to bring in returns.
“The oil palm integration method of using natural vegetations is relatively a zero cost
method where smallholders need only to bear minimum management cost of the cattle.
This method is widely practiced with FELDA’s smallholders and has proven to be very
successful,” he said. He noted that ECER’s integration plan, which will also look into the
upstream and downstream activities supported by anchor companies, was the right
strategy going forward.
Basri said about 51% of 1.08 million hectares of land planted with oil palm in the region
measuring 542,000ha was suitable for cattle oil palm integration. ECER’s proposed
target is 464,000ha under 13 target areas across the region.
Based on MPOB’s study of the optimum ratio of one cattle to 4ha of land, the maximum
numbers of cattle that can be integrated was about 135,500 heads, he said.
“The oil palm smallholders are very receptive to the cattle integration idea. This is clearly
shown by FELDA settlers who are currently rearing about 168,800 cattle in their oil palm