• 1 Malaysian Palm Oil Board


Quality of planting materials determines future successes of plantations and subsequent endeavours in the life cycle. Oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) breeding triggered an industry in Malaysia through “Plant Introduction” with the establishment of the first oil palm plantation. At the wake of the oil palm industry, plantations utilised the dura planting material. The hallmark discovery of the single gene inheritance for shell thickness led to the prolific dura x pisifera (DxP) derived tenera planting material. Subsequent parental inbred lines developed in recurrent selections, crossed and progeny tested exploiting heterosis had boosted yields. Further improvements were foresighted and executed in the widening of the genetic pool and collections of germplasm in centres of origin/diversity in Africa and Latin America. Field Genebank of the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) forms the world’s largest ex situ oil palm conservation programme. This programme enabled the developments of elite breeding populations harbouring specialty oils and products. Meanwhile, opening of large oil palm areas by the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) set the momentum in rapid expansion of the industry. Felda is an exemplary in wealth creation and quality of life (QOL). Resettlements of landless farmers into Felda schemes, employing modern farming, mainly in oil palm has helped eradicate poverty and uplifting QOL among settlers, employees and their families. Impacts of the success in wealth creation and its distribution leading to better QOL, rooted from breeding through the supply of quality planting materials. Phenotypic expressions of the planting materials were realised through genotypic and environment interactions; the former through breeding, the latter through agronomic practices. Efforts in oil palm breeding helped paved the way to a mammoth industry, contributing to the nation economic growths, impacting livelihood of the people. Further progress in yield is expected from clones, where breeding has a role in the supply of quality ortets. Genetic potential of planting materials can be further exploited through interdisciplinary approach in breeding, biotechnology and genomics. With continuing wealth creation, the oil palm saga continues. Once wealth is created, QOL will follow.