KUALA LUMPUR: The Netherlands will continue to invest in developing Malaysian oil palm smallholders, says Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte.
At a press conference, Rutte who is on a two-day working visit, said the country would continue with the National Initiatives for Sustainable Climate Smart Oil Palm Smallholders (NI-SCOPS) programme in Malaysia for the next five years.
Essentially, the programme helps Malaysian oil palm smallholders overcome challenges related to sustainable palm oil.
Rutte said in the past, some 40,000 Malaysian smallholders had benefitted from the programme.
The Netherlands is a key trading partner and is the largest importer of Malaysian palm oil among European Union countries.
Some 35% of palm oil imported into the Netherlands comes from Malaysia.
There have been concerns that the European Union’s Deforestation Regulations (EUDR) will be detrimental to small farming businesses and exclude them from the global supply chain.
The EUDR bans imports of coffee, beef, soy and other commodities into the bloc unless companies can provide “verifiable” information that the products were not grown on land that was deforested after 2020.
Malaysia previously said it could stop exports to the EU over the deforestation law.
Rutte said while the Netherlands was in favour of the EUDR, it is pleading for an 18-month implementation phase.
“We need accompanying measures and there is a joint task force between the EU, Indonesia and Malaysia.”
He said the task force will discuss the implementation of the EUDR so that it would have a minimum impact on smallholders.
“I also told the deputy prime minister (Fadillah Yusof) that we will do everything we can in their (Malaysia’s) talks with the EU.”
Earlier today, following his meeting with Rutte, Fadillah said the Netherlands had agreed to support Malaysia at the second meeting on the EUDR this December.