CEO Morning Brief

Genting Plantations’ Three-decade Sustainability Journey Continues

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Publish date: Tue, 28 Nov 2023, 09:23 AM
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TheEdge CEO Morning Brief

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly on November 27, 2023 - December 3, 2023

We hope to see more tax allowances and exemptions. It would also be good to see a standardisation of industry-specific ESG definitions and naming conventions.” - Tan

Genting Plantations Bhd (GENP) won gold at The Edge Malaysia ESG Awards 2023 under the plantations category, thanks to its sustainability journey that it started nearly three decades ago, says Tan Wee Kok, president and chief operating officer of GENP.

It was not an easy journey “as the concept was new and seemed far-fetched and the mindset of most was not ready”, says Tan.

“Having gone through the various challenges, I must say that the crux of GENP remaining committed and proactive to the evolution of sustainable palm oil production is definitely the fundamental principle that lies at the heart of our group’s business philosophy, which is embodied in our four-pillared sustainability agenda.”

The four pillars are environment, community, workplace and marketplace. These are aligned with the current demands of society and the relevant United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which are centred on climate action, responsible consumption and production, as well as decent work and economic growth.

“Our group remains steadfast in upholding the core principles that have been the pillars of our progression thus far, with all our employees playing an active role,” Tan says.

One of the biggest challenges GENP faced was the constant changes in global ESG regulations, which companies are expected to keep up with while protecting their interests.

“However, we take the challenge as a motivation not to be complacent but instead to further improve while upholding our core sustainability principles,” he adds.

Investing in the future

A journey that GENP started nearly two decades ago was investing in genomic research when it was looking for sustainable solutions. This has resulted in high-yielding disease-tolerant seeds and microbial bio-products as well as precision agriculture methodologies for specific and effective agronomic practices.

“This innovation is set to transform the agribusiness landscape from green and sustainable perspectives. The concept of ‘apply less for more or for higher productivity’ is the foundation to optimise land use with the limited resources in the agriculture business,” says Tan.

This includes increasing productivity by stewarding the efficient use of arable land and resources, along with addressing the scarcity of labour.

The microbial bio-products, he adds, reduce the application of inorganic or chemical fertilisers while improving nutrient uptake and boosting the yield of oil palm.

On the other hand, GENP has been collecting a wealth of data, which can provide valuable insights that help the company find effective solutions and improve productivity, says Tan.

“A holistic approach is well adopted within GENP for the whole value chain of the oil palm plantation business for informed decision making. This is realised through the planting of the right seed based on comprehensive insightful information at the right location and the recommendation of the right practices to reap the optimal yield and productivity based on the resources available.”

GENP also collaborated with community organisation Hutan and the Sabah state government to establish a corridor for wildlife to roam freely in its natural habitat, called the Keruak Wildlife Corridor. This project won the 2023 Gold Award from the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

All this is possible, Tan says, because GENP’s board of directors plays an active role in ensuring the company’s strategic decisions are guided by ESG. “Our board is mindful of the threat in relation to global food security and thus has adopted long-term strategies to address this.”

He adds that he welcomes the government’s ESG-related initiatives that were introduced in the recent budget and that “we hope to see more tax allowances and exemptions. It would also be good to see a standardisation of industry-­specific ESG definitions and naming conventions”.

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Source: TheEdge - 28 Nov 2023

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