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.

The following are some of the key initiatives carried out by our R&D in the Financial Year Ended 31 December 2020 :

GenomeSelectTM ready for commercialisation
FY2020 saw the first commercial yields from Sime Darby Plantation’s mature GenomeSelect™ palms. Since its launch in 2016, a total of 3,362 hectares (“ha”) of GenomeSelect™ materials have been planted in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah. While our current planting rate stands at up to 1,000 ha per year, we are targeting to multiply this by more than sevenfold to 7,500 ha per year in 2022 to ensure we have sufficient materials to supply all our Malaysian replanting needs as well as extra for commercial sale by 2023.
In its first year, the 2016 GenomeSelect™ field produced a 20% yield increase over the control field of the same age and location. We will also be able to produce 1.45 million GenomeSelect™ seeds derived from the new mother palms in 2021. GenomeSelect™ technology has also successfully enabled the establishment of new mother palms by our Indonesian subsidiary Minamas to start commercial GenomeSelect™ seed production in Indonesia by 2024.
In 2020, we made the genome sequence publicly available for the benefit of the entire plantation sector. This new genome sequence data which we made public, represents an improvement from 43% to 79% completeness in the oil palm genome assembly over previous publicly available versions.
Read more about our GenomeSelect™
Read more about our GenomeSelect™ Publication 
Enhanced crop resiliency
In addition to superior oil yield, the R&D division seeks to improve crop resiliency against environmental changes by incorporating secondary traits, such as Ganoderma and drought tolerance into our GenomeSelect™ materials. To that end, we have developed a novel DNA-based prediction model for Ganoderma tolerance in our GenomeSelect™ population and have set a target of field planting the first Ganoderma-tolerant GenomeSelect™ at estates with high incidence of the disease within this year.
Precision agriculture for superior agronomy
As part of the Group’s strategic commitment towards Agriculture 4.0, we continue to embrace greater adoption of precision agricultural tools and digital technologies across our estates and research facilities. To improve estate productivity, we have expanded the use of mechanised solutions and digitalisation across estate production and processing capabilities, enabling us to progressively reduce our dependence on manual labour, increase overall throughput and elevate strategic decision-making.
Our research centres have also incorporated further automation and robotics capabilities to support new rapid testing and analysis methodologies for soil, water and food safety. These efforts have significantly enhanced our plantation research and agronomy processes, enabling increased efficiency and safety in laboratory management practices.
Read more about our Precision Agriculture Methods

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.
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