Call to Action – Palm oil has been targeted throughout Europe and the United States by environmental NGOs, policymakers and international organizations with mischaracterizations and distortions of palm oil’s sustainability. Amid these campaigns however, the real victims of these misrepresentations are not wealthy corporations or well-known food manufacturers – they are the Malaysian small farmer.
Cultivating between 4 and 40 hectares of land, the Malaysian small farmer has been a cornerstone of palm oil production in the country since Malaysia identified palm oil as a key commodity for economic development. Cultivating about 40 per cent of land under oil palms, the Malaysian small farmer also plays a central role in the palm oil industry’s contribution of RM 53 billion (USD 16.57 billion) to Malaysia’s Gross National Income.
But opponents of the palm oil industry and agriculture production the world over see these facts as inconvenient in their struggle against the use of the world’s most land efficient and sustainable vegetable oil source. In so doing, opponents of the palm oil industry are campaigning against the very livelihoods of millions of palm oil small farmers not just in Malaysia, but throughout Africa, South East Asia and Latin America.
Palm oil small farmers throughout the world continue to work to achieve better lives for their families and communities, sometimes assisted by governments. In Malaysia, the country’s Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) has identified areas to increase the income for small farmers, ensuring greater prosperity for producers and driving greater investment into rural communities throughout the country. Small farmers throughout the world can benefit as well from research and investment. But not as long as opponents of development and food security continue to attack small farmers.