MIRI (May 14): The approval of the European Union Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) is deemed by Sarawak Dayak Oil Palm Planters Association (Doppa) president Napolean R Ningkos as a law that ‘denies human rights and creates barriers for local oil palm planters to advance in socio-economic development, especially the indigenous Dayak oil palm smallholders’.
The regulation, approved by the EU Parliament last month, not only applied to palm oil, but also to beef, soy, cocoa, coffee, rubber and timber, as well as most products derived from these commodities such as leather, hides and chocolate.
The EUDR requires any company to demonstrate and declare that their products have not contributed to deforestation, should they wish to market them in the EU.
“We deeply regret the approval of the EUDR by the EU Parliament on April 19.
“More than 42,000 independent smallholders in Sarawak will feel constrained by the EUDR after the expiry of the grace period of 18 months for large oil palm plantation companies, and 24 months for independent smallholders,” said Napolean in a press statement yesterday.
He added that Doppa had always recognised the existence of the European market in relation to the entire global palm oil supply chain, but the implications of the EUDR would be ‘potentially large’ in that if not monitored comprehensively, it could remove independent smallholders throughout the palm oil supply chain in Malaysia.
“The enforcement of the EUDR seems to have violated human rights enshrined in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG), in eradicating poverty and improving socio-economics.
“This situation has created a difficult obstacle for independent smallholders, who are not financially able to meet the needs and requirements of the EUDR due-diligence exercise.
“The EU should reconsider approving the EUDR without seeing the negative impact on the living standards of smallholders in producing countries.
“The EU is also seen as failing to provide incentives for all independent smallholders in implementing EUDR due diligence,” he stressed.
Napolean also said the failure could lead to the rejection of fresh fruit bunches (FFB) produced by independent smallholders, especially when selling these FFBS to processing facilities owned by large plantation companies.
Expressing Doppa’s hope, Napolean said the EU could have been more thorough in developing the implementation guidelines of EUDR without ignoring the existence of independent smallholders, especially in Malaysia.
“The EU’s failure to understand the entire supply chain system in Malaysia is very regrettable, especially the media statement made by the EU Ambassador to Malaysia, Michalis Rokas, who claimed that smallholders under the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) were not affected by the implementation of the EUDR.
“Rokas fails to understand that not all smallholders are under government agencies such as Felda, Salcra (Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority), Felcra (Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority) and Risda (Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority).
“Rokas fails to recognise the existence of over 260,000 independent smallholders in Malaysia, covering total planting areas of over 980,000 hectares,” he pointed out.
On another subject, Napolean said Doppa welcomed the statement by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof – also the nation’s Minister of Plantation and Commodities, who suggested that discussions between Malaysia and EU leaders should be held to solve the problem.
In this regard, he said: “With regard to the implementation of the EUDR having been approved by the EU Parliament, Doppa has started the first step by collaborating with DIBIZ Malaysia Sdn Bhd to protect the interests of more than 40,000 independent smallholders in Sarawak.
“The traceability system provided by DIBIZ Malaysia will be able to position the locations and operations of independent smallholders in Sarawak.
“The discussions between Doppa and DIBIZ Malaysia Sdn Bhd are still in the early stage, and Doppa is very confident that this collaboration will be successful with the support from the Sarawak state government and the fruit processing facilities owned by large oil palm plantation companies in Sarawak.”
Napolean said Doppa had also suggested to Fadillah that the discussions between Malaysia and EU leaders should also involve various parties directly involved in and affected by the palm oil supply chain system in Malaysia.
“With this, the government’s efforts through the Ministry of Plantations and Commodities will be seen as comprehensive in voicing out various problems arising from the implementation of EUDR due-diligence,” he said further.