Research & Development Overview

As a fully-integrated palm oil producer, our R&D capabilities encompass all research area requirements across the value chain. Through our strategic and operational R&D, we are committed towards developing, applying and transferring relevant knowledge, research findings and technologies to improve our plantation yields, milling processes and customise our downstream products.

Research & Development Capacity:
  • 5 Research & Development Centres in Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.
  • 3 Innovation Centres in Malaysia, the Netherlands and South Africa.
  • 1 fully operational genetic testing facility in Malaysia to commercialise high yielding oil palm with secondary traits for harvesting efficiency and climate resilience.
  • 190 Scientist and Technicians developing better seedlings and systems to enhance plantation yields
Research & Development

Yield Productivity Improvements
  • Elite planting materials
  • Develop best practices
  • Productivity improvements
  • Advisory, audit and training

Increase Revenue Streams
  • Market leader in planting materials
  • High value oils and fats products
  • Exploit value of co-products
  • Commercial patent strategy

Sustainable Practices
  • Develop green technologies and products; reduce chemicals
  • Reduce GHG emissions
  • Improve and sustain soil fertility


Main Units:
  1. Plantation Research
    • Ensuring the well-being of our estates, usage of best planting materials and good agricultural practices.
    • Also focuses on fertiliser application, coordinates R&D trainings for our estates and mills, and develops mechanisation solutions.
    • Research and services in the area of sustainability .

  2. Biotechnology and Breeding
    • Leads continuous improvement in yield and other desirable economic traits in oil palm and rubber planting materials using ultra advanced genomics and tissue culture technologies.
    • Also conducts strategic research in applied chemistry and biotechnology to support the value chain and ensures sustainable planting of high yielding palms.

  3. Processing Technology
    • Recommends improvements to mill and refinery processes and provides laboratory analysis, and product development.

  4. Oils & Fats
    • Conducts fundamental research on downstream palm products and transfers technology to our innovation centres and subsidiaries for customised product development.

  5. Innovation Centres
    • Provide technical services to our global customers, develop new products and provide technical support to our refineries.

  6. Seeds and Agricultural Services
    • Through SD Seeds & Agricultural, Dami Oil Palm Research Station (“Dami OPRS”) which is owned by NBPOL, and PT ASL, we mass produce elite oil palm planting materials for internal and external customers and provide estate consultancy services.

  7. Environmental, Safety and Health
    • Facilitates and undertakes initiatives relating to quality, environmental issues, occupational, safety and health issues and sustainability within our operations.
Past Notable Achievements

Calix 600
Superior yielding Oil Palms originating from elite parental lines.

Sime Darby’s Calix 600 oil palm seed comes with highly advanced characteristics as it is bred from elite parental lines –Deli Dura as the mother palm and AVROS Pisifera as the father palm. The seed gives early or better yields, up to 10 tonnes per ha/year after 24 to 36 months of field planting. The homogenous growth of the seeds improves the efficiency of field operations.
  • Calix 600 is produced from years of scientific research excellence gathered from Guthrie, Golden Hope and Sime Darby originating from elite parental lines
  • Its superior oil yield could produce up to 10mt/ha/yr with an earlier production of fresh fruit bunch (FFB)
  • Calix 600 promises high early yield, thin shell, thick mesocarp. Its homogenous growth provides more efficient field operations
  • Calix 600 offers unprecedented quality and superior oil yield as far as oil palm plantation is concerned.


Enzyme Technology to Tailor Fat Functionality

We are continuously aiming for new formulations based on healthier vegetable oils and fats that have the right nutritional balance and simultaneously provide the desired taste and texture of foods. Sime Darby Plantation uses modern enzyme technology to tailor functional properties of vegetable oils. This technology is mainly used to manufacture high quality hardstocks for application in consumer spreads and bakery margarines. The enzyme technology is 'greener' as it uses less energy, does not use chemicals and eliminates waste water.

Sime Darby R&D Laboratory Services Recognized as World-Class
Lab services was awarded the Institut Kimia Malaysia (IKM) President Laboratory Award for 2014. The award is the most prestigious one handed out by IKM and is bestowed upon the lab that has demonstrated excellent achievement in the practice of chemistry. SDR Labs was nominated in the highly competitive Laboratories from Industry category where it won against competition such as Petronas Labs.
The following are some of the key initiatives carried out by our R&D in the Financial Year Ended 31 December 2019 :

Genome Select Enhancing Yield and Climate Resiliency

More than 2,300 ha of GenomeSelectTM palms have been planted in multiple locations across Peninsular and East Malaysia. We also commenced test seed production for new GenomeSelectTM mother palms. Genetic testing facilities initiated routine seed purity testing of all seeds produced since 2019.

GenomeSelect DXP has been used for Sime Darby plantation replanting since 2018 and will be the utilized for all replanting from 2023. Due its limited availability and exclusivity, at the moment GenomeSelect will not be available to the Malaysian market, however, some of the technologies and findings made during the development of GenomeSelect DXP has been incorporated into the production of Calix 600 and this upgraded planting material was christened as Calix Q6 for Malaysian and international market. Calix Q6 is the only DXP planting material that is 99% legitimacy proven upon the delivery which will help the palm oil industry to obtain higher oil yield that can increase oil per hectare.

During the year under review, we also granted the approval from Indonesian government to commercially produce our new elite oil palm planting materials called iCalix DXP for Indonesian market. iCalix population originated from the selected Calix 600 parents from Malaysia.
Monitoring and Mapping Our Operations

We have set-up an enterprise wide geographic information system (GIS) to centralise spatial data and facilitate faster decision-making.

We have also dedicated additional resources to increase image collection through drone and satellite-based systems. These images allow for more efficient delivery of mapping services as well as the development of operational analytics such as palm census, health, and water management status. The use of artificial intelligence has increased the amount of images and data that can be processed, improving delivery of solutions to our internal customers.

Our ongoing efforts will be directed on the continued development and roll-out of imaging and analytics tools to benefit estate operations. We also recognise the potential of investing in the internet of things (IoT) – enabled devices to further strengthen our data collection capabilities and enable additional analytics to improve performance.

Agronomic Trials Ensuring Best Practices 

We focused on refining and improving our approaches in best agricultural practices through continuous Pest & Diseases (P&D) and agronomic trials, which contributed to higher economic returns, while reducing the burden on the environment.

Similarly, we continued our efforts to optimise the use of green fertilisers to enhance soil health, especially on low fertility soils. We have also made progress on early pest and disease detection using advanced remote sensing and non-invasive technologies.
Future Mill Development

We have commenced the operations of a 5 ton/hr experimental pilot plant known as Tennamaram Experimental Station (TESt). TESt will be the foundation for the next generation palm oil mill with more automation and process control. It will also provide an opportunity for our engineers and mill managers to objectively evaluate and determine the best design that will help our mills reach their optimum performance.

Mechanisation: Improving Efficiencies & Productivity 

After systematic trials and tests in our estates, we initiated efforts to scale-up and commercialise our patented machines that assist in more efficient FFB evacuation and loose fruit collection.

We also developed two new machines – Mechanical Buffalo Scissor Lift (MBSL) and Integrated Oil Palm Loose Collector (ILFC), which have already been commercialised and licensed to external manufacturers.
Differentiated Products: Innovating for our Customers

Our IC in Malaysia developed and launched six new quality consumer products in Asia. IC also provided extensive technical support and services to internal and external customers. We have also initiated efforts to phase out the trans fats from our product offerings.
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