Malaysian Palm Oil Industry Awards 2017


Mr Palaniappan Swaminathan

The award is conferred upon a unique individual in recognition of outstanding contributions to the development of the palm oil industry. This year’s recipient, Mr Palaniappan Swaminathan, has given lifelong devotion to his work and has made a profound difference to many lives.

He obtained a Bachelor of Science (Honours) and Master of Science from the University of Malaya, before embarking on a fulfilling career at FELDA that has spanned 39 years to date. He also holds an ACCA Certified Diploma in Accounting, and a Certificate in Plant Breeding from the International Agricultural Centre in Wageningen, the Netherlands.

Mr Palaniappan started out as a Research Officer at Perbadanan Khidmat Felda (now known as Felda Agricultural Services Sdn Bhd) in 1978. It was here that he developed a highly-influential life’s calling as a plant scientist, making an invaluable contribution to increasing the yield of planted oil palm, and in turn, the profitability of the palm oil industry.

For his dedication to advancing critical scientific research, Mr Palaniappan was made General Manager of Research and Development, serving in this capacity from 2003-2005. His research expertise extends to agronomy, breeding and processing of oil palm, cocoa, coconut, coffee, tropical fruits and herbs.

Recognised for his pioneering work on the development and implementation of advanced bio-molecular marker research, Mr Palaniappan was appointed the CEO of Felda Agricultural Services Sdn Bhd in 2006, and served until 2014. In 2016, he took over as Head of Palm Upstream Cluster in FGV, where he is responsible for all oil palm plantations and mills. He is currently the Chief Operating Officer of Felda Global Ventures Holdings (Plantation Sector).

A crowning achievement of his world-class research is the award-winning Yangambi oil palm planting material, which has 42% of the market-share in Malaysia. Nearly 90% of the seeds produced by Felda Agricultural Services are sold to smallholder organisations like FELCRA and RISDA, private holdings and public-listed plantations.

Mr Palaniappan initiated extensive R&D in the commercialisation of tissue culture and marker assisted breeding, and laid this critical foundation for FGV to continue its ground-breaking research in close collaboration with premier local agencies like the MPOB and international organisations. This revolutionary venture will ensure Malaysia’s future planting material with superior oil yield, and specific significant traits like Ganoderma-tolerant palms.

On account of his unwavering dedication and insightful research leadership, Mr Palaniappan was made a Board Member of several companies in the Felda Global Ventures Group. He is also a Board Member of Ladang Tai Tak (Kota Tinggi) Sdn Bhd, Trurich Resources Sdn Bhd and MYBiomass Sdn Bhd.

Mr Palaniappan was a Member of the RSPO Board of Governors and a past Member of the Palm External Advisory Panel at P&G. He is a Member of the Main Research and Development Committee of the Malaysian Palm Oil Association (MPOA); a Council Member of the MPOA; a Committee Member of the MPOB Task Force for Ganoderma and Bud Rot Disease; a Member of the Programme Advisory Committee Techno-Economics Sub-Committee; and Committee Member of the Kuala Muda Estate Owner’s Committee, for Felda Holdings Bhd.

This extraordinary man of science was also a Member of the Advisory Committee for Biotechnology and Molecular Science at University Putra Malaysia; a past Member of the Board of Advisors for the proposed Kuliyyah of Agricultural Science and National Resources at International Islamic University Malaysia; as well as a past Member of the Consultative Committee on Sustainable Palm Oil Production Project.


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