NASH doubts EU would reverse palm oil ban

‘EU have already set their mind. But we will put up a fight’

By D KANYAKUMARI / Pic By AFIF ABD HALIM

The National Association of Smallholders (NASH) is pessimistic about the possibility of the European Union (EU) reversing its decision to impose the single certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) scheme for Europe-bound palm oil exports after 2020 while phasing out palm oil from the EU biofuel programme by then.

NASH president Datuk Aliasak Ambia told The Malaysian Reserve that a decision like that, once brought to the Parliament, is difficult to reverse.

“Let us be practical. This sustainable green agenda has been in their pipeline for a long time. Now that it’s in their Parliament and the resolutions have been already passed, it’s hard to reverse it.

“They have already set their mind. But we will put up a fight, for the sake of our small-holders here whose lives depend on it. We will do our best. Maybe if they see the scale of our protests, it may change their minds,” he said after he handed over a petition to the EU ambassador, calling for the resolutions to be reversed.

He added that the sentiment on the ground among the smallholders seems to be tense as the decision by the EU is perceived as “cruel and heartless”.

“They are all disappointed and worried because Europe is our biggest importer. Even if we try to find a replacement, we will never be able to make the same kind of revenue.

“Not having them importing from us is going to affect the smallholders income by at least 50% or more — nothing less than that. Then they are all going to suffer,” he said.

Aliasak added that if the EU passes its “discriminatory resolutions”, he will make a plea to the Malaysian government to boycott products from Europe.

“That’s the best we can do. At least then they will understand the seriousness of the matter and how badly it would affect us.

“Also, if they don’t want to buy our diesel, then it’s fine. We will make our own diesel and we will sell to other countries. Palm oil has many purposes.

“We can also call for the government to increase the biodiesel mandate, but we understand that it would require a lot of research before it can be enforced,” he said.

Aliasak however added that he is worried about other countries following suit after the EU.

“That is often the case. People will follow the EU and when that happens, the industry will really collapse,” he said.

Aliasak, along with representatives from the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda), the Dayak Oil Palm Planters Association (Doppa), the Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (SALCRA) and the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC), earlier handed over the petition to the EU ambassador.

The petition signed by over 200,000 palm oil smallholders demanded the EU to withdraw the proposed ban and remove all discriminatory provisions against palm oil as well as commitment to have no future discriminatory provisions against palm oil.

Last year, the EU Parliament passed two resolutions — to impose single CSPO scheme for Europe-bound palm oil exports after 2020 and to phase out palm oil from the EU bio-fuel programme by 2020.