Rapid growth seen for biomass sector: Mustapa

The Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA), a unit under Ministry of International Trade and Industry, projects rapid growth and good prospects for the country’s biomass industry next year.

Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the biomass was an important sector and Malaysia needed to harness its potentials.

“We (Malaysia) are looking for some new growth strategies, as currently we have information technology, biotechnology and electrical and electronics sectors which have done well,” he told reporters at the Biomass Conference 2015, here Wednesday.

He said Malaysia’s biomass ecosystem now was quite simple where biomass items were converted to oil palm pellets which were sold to South Korea and China.

Mustapa said the biggest opportunities were in Sarawak, Johor and Pahang which had big palm plantations, which could be relied on for good and regular supply of raw materials.

He said the country needed to move up and produce bio-ethanol, citing Brazil as an example where the country was converting sugarcane waste to ethanol for fuel.

“The costs of raw materials are quite competitive in Malaysia and we (MIDA) believe there is going to be huge potentials,” he said.

Investments in biomass industry in Malaysia continue to be encouraging and as of 2014, MIDA approved a total of 12 biomass projects with investments of RM82.9 million compared with 11 projects with investments of RM54.6 million in 2013.

Domestic investments amounted to RM71.1 million while foreign investments totaled RM11.8 million.

Approved biomass projects were for utilisation of empty fruit bunches and palm oil mill effluents to produce organic fertiliser, oil palm pellet, peeled palm lumber and fibre.

Significant opportunities now exist in downstream activities, which generate higher value-added products in the palm biomass sub-sector.

Other promoted growth areas in the palm oil sector are in oleochemical-based products and nutritional foods and ingredients, as well as research and developments activities which involve high levels of technology.

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