Malaysia's biggest palm oil-producing state says plantations to remain closed

by Reuters
Wednesday, 8 April 2020 09:36 GMT

KUALA LUMPUR, April 8 (Reuters) - Malaysia's biggest palm oil-producing state, Sabah, will uphold its decision for plantations and millers in six districts to suspend operations until mid-April as part of its coronavirus containment measures.

Sabah chief minister Shafie Apdal told reporters after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday that the state's first priority was to save lives, and that it will only look at challenges facing businesses, factories and plantations after that.

"I want the facts from the health ministry and police that the factories are safe to operate," he said.

Officials had received a raft of appeals from planter groups and companies to re-open operations in the state.

The Malaysian Palm Oil Association had warned that the industry risked losing 500,000 tonnes of crop valued at 430 million ringgit ($99 million) from a 14-day closure.

Shafie urged palm companies to remain patient and compliant during the shutdown order that is scheduled to end on April 14.

Sabah state, located in eastern Malaysia, produces about 25% of the country's palm oil. (Reporting by Mei Mei Chu; Editing by Jan Harvey)

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