Kota Kinibalu, Malaysia (ANTARA News) - Indonesia likely overtook Malaysia as the world's top palm oil producer in 2007, due to dramatically increased planting there, Malaysia said Monday.
"From preliminary figures in 2007 it looks like Indonesia has already overtaken us in terms of production," Plantation and Commodities Minister Peter Chin was quoted by AFP as telling reporters.
Chin said Malaysia was still the world's top exporter but that Indonesia was "very close behind" and would probably claim top status in 2008.
"We do not aspire to be number one all the time," he said on the sidelines of a conference on sustainable palm oil production, in Sabah state on Malaysia's Borneo Island.
"Now Indonesia is coming up strongly, we acknowledge that they have more land, more estates and therefore they should logically be a bigger producer and bigger exporter. We will accept that," he said.
Malaysia produced 15.82 million tonnes of crude palm oil last year, and earned 45.2 billion ringgit (14.1 billion dollars) in export revenue.
Palm oil plantations account for 1.2 million hectares (2.97 million acres) of Malaysia's 4.2 million hectares of land allocated for agriculture. Some 30 percent of the country's palm oil is in Sabah.
Malaysia and Indonesia together produce 85 percent of the world's palm oil which is enjoying a boom on the back of strong global demand and tight supply.
Chin said with limited opportunities to expand agricultural land, palm oil producers will focus on increasing yield from existing crops by efficient growing techniques and replanting with better seedlings. (*)