Europe’s palm oil ban puts Malaysia’s smallholders at risk

Small farmers manage almost 40 per cent of Malaysia’s 5.81 million hectares of palm plantations, says Tiow. — AFP photo

KUALA LUMPUR: Palm oil production is important for the Malaysian economy – the country is known as the world’s second largest producer of this commodity after Indonesia.

For small farmers, this industry is a major source of income for them, in that it has helped eradicate poverty and enhance social mobility.

In this respect, the European Union (EU)’s intended ban on palm oil would affect the quality of lives of 650,000 small-holding farmers – reducing the incomes of those in the industry.

“We cannot keep silent and allow this to happen,” said Tiow Weng Theong, an advocate for Planters United – a non- governmental organisation (NGO) made up of a group of smallholder planters in Malaysia.

“Europe is the world’s second largest palm oil importer; thus, the EU ban under the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) by 2030 would lead to a gloomy future for Malaysia’s palm oil exports as palm oil is a major feedstock for biofuels,” he said in a statement released yesterday.

It is believed that about onethird – or 600,000 tonnes – out of two million tonnes of Malaysian palm oil exported to the EU, is used for biofuel production.

Moreover, Malaysia supplies 212,000 tonnes of palm oil-based biodiesel to Europe.

Small farmers manage almost 40 per cent of Malaysia’s 5.81 million hectares of palm plantations. On average, a small farmer with 3.9 hectares of land can earn a monthly net income of RM2,000 to RM2,100.

These farmers are typically from the ‘Bottom 40 Per Cent’ ( B40) income- bracket of the population.

“Imagine if these small farmers were to lose their primary source of income because of the EU ban. Not only would this have a huge impact on the nation’s tax revenue and economic growth, it would also bring negative effects to their families.

“How are small farmers going to cope with the daily expenses of their families, their children’s education, and the worsening inflation rate?” argued Tiow, stressing the importance to uphold and safeguard ‘the lives of our Malaysian farmers’, and also ‘their rights to cultivate oil palms, obtain incomes and support their families’.

“Do not suppress the smallholding farmers – care for them and their families,” he stressed.

Source: The Borneo Post

Malaysia, Indonesia and Colombia to meet over palm oil

Thank You YAB Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad for voicing our the issue on the European Union ban on palm oil during your address at the 73rd Session of the United Nation General Assembly.

Anchor companies to boost agro industry

KUCHING: The Sarawak government has adopted the ‘anchor company’ model as one of the efforts to make Sarawak a net exporter of food products by 2030.

According to Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, Sarawak has a very big potential in agro-based food production, having lots of land and ‘hardworking people’.

He believes that Sarawak can move successfully towards this new direction – to go downstream on bigger scale – but the right model must be adopted.

“That is why we are adopting the ‘anchor company’ model whereby the companies, which have the upstream experience, which includes planting, the processing facilities as well as the market to work with Sarawak government.

Top Fruit and RH Bee Farm are some of the anchor companies that have agreed to collaborate with the state government. I think we have got four or five anchor companies collaborating with us now, but I can’t remember the names of the other companies,” he told reporters after the closing and certificate presentation ceremony of food processing skill course for agropreneurs (bakery) here yesterday.

Top Fruit deals with the exportation of durian paste, while RH handles the exportation of ‘madu kelulut’ (stingless bee honey).

Uggah, who is Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development, said by having anchor companies take the lead, the industry would be able to leapfrog Sarawak into the export-oriented agriculture market.

He noted that developing entrepreneurs from the primary production right up to the market, could take a lot of time because upon embarking onto the international market, they must meet a lot of requirements.

“Top Fruit, for example, can meet the international requirements in durian paste export. That is why we adopt the company as an anchor company so that we can export our durian paste overseas.

“Last year, we exported 16 tonnes of our durian paste through their (Top Fruit) factory in Johor.

“If we want to do it here, it would take time to meet the requirements. But eventually, we want Sarawakians themselves to set up this kind of factory and take the opportunity to meet the international standards, not only for the China market but also for the Asian market,” he said.

Uggah reiterated that going downstream should be the new direction for Sarawak to consider seriously.

He said the Sarawak government wanted to provide training to local entrepreneurs – for them to learn some of the production technologies so that they could set up the downstream products for Sarawak.

This, Uggah pointed out, would also assist Sarawak government in its direction towards making Sarawak a net exporter of food products by 2030.

He said local entrepreneurs too must try to venture into downstream products because not all the fresh fruits could meet the requirements of the ‘ fresh market’.

“(Take) pineapples, for example. Not all pineapples can be sold as fresh fruits. Almost 40 per cent of the fresh fruits may not be able meet the requirements for the fresh market.

“There are various products that can be derived from pineapples – pineapple tarts, pineapple jam, pineapple juice and so on. We have a lot of products. Aside from pineapples, we have chillies, we have durians, we have ‘terung asam’ (sour brinjals), we have bananas and many more.”

Uggah believed that the increase in products for exports would also increase the source of revenue for the farmers – this would eventually help the government achieve its objective of raising the income of the farmers and bridge the gap between those in the rural and urban areas.

Permanent secretary of the Ministry of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native land and Regional Development Dato Ik Pahin Joyik and Sarawak Agriculture Deportment acting director Dr Alvin Chai were also present.

Source: The Borneo Post