Govt seeks better understanding of ketum as commodity, says minister

Plantation and commodities minister Fadillah Yusof says the development of ketum into an industry must be balanced with its potential benefits and risk.

Fadillah Yusof said a strategic approach to ketum is needed to tap its potential use in various industries.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is seeking a comprehensive understanding of ketum and its possible use which could be turned into a lucrative commodity industry through investments in botany, pharmacology and medicine.

Deputy prime minister Fadillah Yusof said the strategic approach to ketum underscores Malaysia’s pursuit of both cultural preservation and economic advancement.

“The nation’s holistic strategy involves all stakeholders, balancing progress with heritage,” he said during the launch of the Fourth International Integrative Medicine Conference and Inaugural Asian Congress on Ketum here.

Beyond economic significance, Fadillah, who is also the plantation and commodities minister, said Malaysia’s commodities sector plays a crucial role in securing the world’s food supply chain.

“Notably, our palm oil and cocoa are integral ingredients in various food products which are produced responsibly and sustainably,” he said.

That is why the use of ketum in Malaysia is carefully governed by stringent laws and policies.

“Hence, the development of ketum, a tropical plant known for its medicinal properties that contain psychoactive alkaloids, into an industry must be balanced with its potential benefits and risk,” he said.

As such, he said, Malaysia employs a multifaceted approach involving regulation, research and community engagement, which would have serious implications that create havoc for the society and nation.

The legal framework in place in the governing of ketum encompasses the Poisons Act 1952 and the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, which impose rigorous controls on cultivation, possession and sale.

“At the same time, the government’s commitment to scientific research underscores its dedication to informed decision-making,” he said.

Moving forward, Fadillah said the government remains committed to data-driven decision-making, adapting regulations as needed to harmonise economic progress and the people’s well-being.