KUALA LUMPUR — Total palm oil output in top producers Indonesia and Malaysia is expected to fall in 2020 hampered by a labor shortage, and last year’s dry weather and lower fertilizer application, the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) said.

The prospect of a La Niña weather patter bringing wetter-than-normal weather to Indonesia and Malaysia could also adversely affect crop production and harvesting, it said.

“The potential of La Niña in the second half of the year will dampen any prospects of increased production,” CPOPC, a palm oil board led by Indonesia and Malaysia, said in a report released on Wednesday.

CPOPC forecast Indonesia’s crude palm oil production this year would be 1 million-2 million tons below last year’s 44 million tons.

Output in neighboring Malaysia is expected to drop 4.3% to 19 million tons.

“The relentless pressure from NGOs (nongovernment organizations) to stop oil palm planting, as well as the slowdown in new planting due to low prices up to 2019 and ongoing moratorium policy, will inevitably keep Indonesia’s production growth low,” CPOPC said.

Environmental groups have in recent years criticized the palm oil industry for widespread clearing of tropical forests. — Reuters