Our Approach

Breakthrough Innovation

 

Innovation to increase yield is critical to our growth as a company – and to achieving more sustainable production of palm oil in the future. It is how our industry can produce more oil without more clearance of forest land. At Sime Darby, we’re working towards a deforestation-free palm oil industry and we believe that breakthrough innovation on yield opens up a new route to achieving that ambition.

Rapid global growth in demand for palm oil has accelerated deforestation in some of the most environmentally sensitive and biodiverse parts of the world. With the growth in the world’s population predicted to drive a 70% increase in demand for food, this pressure is only going to get worse. Based on current agricultural practices, the growth in demand for food will require the use of over 900 million hectares of new land worldwide. That's why, it’s more urgent than it has ever been that in the palm oil industry we find new ways of increasing yield, so we can produce more oil from the same land.

Breakthrough innovation comes in many forms. It ranges from genome mapping powered by AI and data analytics through to satellite monitoring that enables precision agriculture in the plantation, from creating a healthy soil microbiome to improving efficiency in our harvesting and milling processes; each step drives the whole effort forward. Increasingly, we can ensure that the best potential yield from each and every palm adds up to getting the best yield from the entire plantation.
 
 
Sime Darby Plantation has invested over RM150 million into R&D since 2009. And our ability to take our research from the lab directly out into the plantation has already enabled us to produce higher yielding seeds, GenomeSelectTM - which in their first commercial harvest showed 20% increase in yield compared to our best planting material to date - underpinning our confidence in the potential of genome research to deliver a step change in yield.

We’re publishing our genome map to enable other researchers in scientific institutions and industry to accelerate their ability to increase yield. It is 79 percent more detailed than anything publicly available previously and has relevance for other sectors, such as coconut and date palm, that are also seeking to modernise and produce more crop from less land, as other agricultural industries have already done.

 

We’re now extending our research into other traits that are crucial to the future success of the industry, such as climate resilience, disease resistance and ease of harvesting. Meanwhile, we’re scaling up production of our higher-yielding seeds to meet all our own replanting needs and also make them commercially available to other producers.

Traceability of supply continues to be critical to efforts to halt deforestation. That’s why last year, we released Crosscheck, an open-access digital tool taking traceability to the mill level, identifying risks in the forest landscape and inviting people to alert us to any problems that may occur on the ground.  Continuing to push ahead on expanding the base of suppliers committed to no deforestation, no peat, no exploitation remains a top priority. Alongside determined efforts to increase transparency and traceability in the supply chain, innovation to increase yield and therefore produce more from existing land provides a new opportunity to make palm oil production more sustainable in the future.

The publication of our genome map is another step in our journey to help create a deforestation-free industry. We hope that this research can inspire a vision for the entire industry to meet the long-term demand to produce more oil while drawing the line on deforestation.
 

 
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