Proposed ban on palm oil: Felda to hand petition to EU office

shahrir-samad-felda-semarak-kl-eu-1KUALA LUMPUR: The Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) will hand over a petition with the signatures of about 100,000 settlers to the European Union (EU) delegation to Malaysia on Jan 16, 2018, to protest against the EU’s plan to ban palm oil from entering its market.

Chairman Shahrir Abdul Samad said to date, Felda has collected 65,000 signatures and was confident of reaching 100,000 signatures by Tuesday.

“The petition will be handed over simultaneously to the office of the delegation of EU to Malaysia, which is the diplomatic mission of the EU, and a copy each to the embassies of 26 EU member nations at 2.30pm by the representatives of the settlers,” he told Bernama.

Shahrir said Felda settlers and smallholders should jointly object to the proposed ban by the European Parliament to restrict the importation of palm oil-based biodiesel as the move would affect their livelihood.

In April 2017, the European Parliament passed a resolution stipulating that only sustainable palm oil can be imported into the EU after 2020.

He said the EU allegation that the cultivation of oil palm in Malaysia was not sustainable was baseless as the crop was grown in Malaysia after taking into account the sustainability aspect, including the social-economic status of the settlers and the environment of the areas under oil palm cultivation.

Shahrir said one of the aims of EU’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) was the ability to eradicate rural poverty by means of oil palm cultivation.

“Thus, by banning the import of palm oil into the continent, Europe is seen to be contradicting its own SDG,” he added.

Felda was concerned about palm oil sustainability and would ensure that its 120,000 settlers complied with the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certificate, which would become effective on Dec 31, 2019, he said.

“This system will ensure the quality of palm oil produced in the country is not compromised and its import will not be barred by countries trying to boycott palm oil, especially the EU.”

He said Felda also hoped to comply with the Sustainable Palm Oil Roundtable (RSPO) and MSPO for eight of its factory complexes and audit more than 30 factory complexes this year.

Meanwhile, Shahrir said in 2017, Felda disbursed RM558.14 million to its settlers, which included an incentive payment of RM5,000 each to 90,418 settlers.

“This disbursement is ongoing and has just begun in Johor Bahru and Segamat.”

Shahrir said the disbursement was one of the six incentives announced by Prime Minister Najib Razak on July 23, 2017.

The other incentives included debt disposal, incentive payment, the setting up of a special fund and grant, as well as a housing incentive.

In LAHAD DATU (Sabah), Deputy Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Nasrun Mansur said Malaysia would take appropriate action if the EU were to pass the resolution as it ran contrary to the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) commitment.

“We are currently conducting engagement with the EU and have contended that the resolution is unfair and have questioned why palm oil is being discriminated against unlike other oils, such as soyabean, which are produced there (in Europe).

“If they go ahead with the resolution, it is against the WTO concept of fair trade and approving the exception is contradictory. This is also a strong reason for us to take action,” he told reporters after closing a Maktab Koperasi Malaysia’s (MKM) event here today.

Nasrun said Malaysia was facing a smear campaign against palm oil.

“Due to flagging sales of seed oils and fats in Europe, they are looking for ways to curtail the palm oil market, claiming bad practices are being deployed to produce the commodity.”

He said palm oil is being used by Ferrero, the maker of much-loved household brands Nutella and Ferrero Rocher.