EU’s Unilateral Legislation on Palm Oil Will Have Adverse and Deleterious Effect on 650,000 Smallholders
Leaders and farmers of smallholders’ associations representing 650,000 smallholders have gathered to protest and express their disapproval and deep disappointment with the impending EU Parliamentary vote to ban palm oil biofuels from 2020, and a single certification for palm oil and palm products from 2020.
Nearly 2,000 smallholders from four national palm oil settler associations, and their leaders marched to the EU Ambassador’s office in Kuala Lumpur to hand over their memorandum of protest on 16 January 2018. The smallholders came from the length and breadth of East Malaysia and Peninsular Malaysia – some came from hard-to-access locations, some took more than two days to reach the federal capital, Kuala Lumpur. That is how critical the impending EU legislation will affect their livelihood, their families and their future. They had to come to voice their frustration to the EU Ambassador.
One of the protestors, Azhar bin Osman, from NASH ( National Association of Smallholders), who came all the way from the northern state of Kedah said palm oil is a nutritious oil and a good product that has been their source of livelihood for many decades. He urged the EU not to stop buying palm oil as there will be a huge surplus of palm oil, and more than fifty percent of their earnings will be wiped out. He said that palm oil does not destroy the environment or the land.
Another protestor, Rohana Jamil, who also came all the way from Kedah added that her parents were oil palm smallholders, and she is continuing the family’s legacy as a smallholder herself. She questioned why only now is the EU wanting to ban palm oil as the EU has been buying palm oil for so many years. She is very disheartened and worried for her family, and all the smallholders, with the impending EU ban.
Mohd Sharim representing the Anak Peneroka (Children of Oil Palm Settlers) Felda Kuantan,
Pahang, who came with his group of 2nd Generation of Oil Palm Settlers, said that he supported the protest against the EU and handing over the Memorandum of Protest to the EU Ambassador and to the 17 embassies of individual EU member countries. He said his group represented the new generation of oil palm smallholders, and their parents who were the pioneer oil palm smallholders from the 1960s. This EU ban will impact the next generation of oil palm smallholders in terms of education and a better quality of life. This is an act of prejudice; unjust and immoral.
Dr Richard Mani, the President of DOPPA (Dayak Oil Palm Planters Association), who came from Sarawak in East Malaysia, emphasized that the EU ban would be disastrous for the economy of smallholders in Sarawak. This group represent 26 ethnic indigenous tribes comprising Dayak, Kadazan, Penan, Iban, Kayan, Kedayan, to name a few. These 27,000 smallholders each has a small plot of land of around 2 hectares, where they plant oil palms and other fruit trees. They use organic fertilizers and also manure from their livestocks, and these smallholders are now being certified by the national Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification.
By Imran Beng