The Malaysian Palm Oil Council says the regulation will block access to the European market.
Representatives of the country’s major small farmer organizations travelled to Brussels to personally present a petition to the European Commission demanding changes to the European Union’s Deforestation Regulation (EUDR).
The trip to Brussels follows a protest last week by several hundred oil palm and rubber small farmers from Felda, Felcra, the Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (Risda), the National Association of Smallholders (NASH) and other associations over the new regulation.
Overall, the groups represent 2.5 million Malaysian small farmers and their families.
In a statement today, the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) said the EUDR threatens small farmers’ livelihoods and future prosperity.
“Specifically, the regulation’s unilateral and unrealistic demands on traceability and geolocation will prevent small farmers from accessing the European market,” it said.
“This will jeopardize the communities’ standard of living, reduce incomes and undermine the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”
The council’s CEO, Belvinder Sron, called on the EU to provide an exemption for small farmers under the EUDR and offer a guarantee that Malaysia will not be designated as a high-risk jurisdiction for deforestation.
She said MPOC will continue to engage with the EU in Kuala Lumpur and Brussels, but its top priority is to support small farmers’ right to produce and export their palm oil.
In the MPOC statement, NASH deputy president Adzmi Hassan described the EU’s new deforestation regulation as “an attack on the way of life for our small farmers”.
“It threatens to increase poverty in rural communities across the country. The EU must consider these consequences and listen to the demands of the small farmers outlined in our petition,” he said.
Meanwhile, the assistant director of Felda’s sustainability department, Zulhilmi Azmi, called on the EU to recognize the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) supply chain certification standard as a form of compliance for the EUDR.
“The EU is supposed to encourage sustainable palm oil production, not oppress small farmers whose livelihoods depend entirely on palm oil,” he said.
The EUDR was introduced in November 2021 to limit deforestation caused by the consumption of agricultural commodities and products around the world.
It lists palm oil as one of the commodities that drive deforestation and forest degradation through the expansion of agricultural land.
The implementation of the EUDR is expected to have a significant impact on the use of palm oil in the EU, and its critics say it will create a negative image of Malaysian palm oil, which will lead to a reduction in exports to the EU and possibly globally.