Ministers of member countries of the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) are calling on the organization to be more proactive in campaigning for palm oil, including in consumer countries, to address the mounting negative campaigns against the commodity in its major markets.
“Ministers encouraged CPOPC to be more proactive in conducting positive campaigns in consumer and producer countries,” CPOPC said in a statement to the press following the closure of the 8th ministerial meeting of the organization on February 26, 2021.
The statement added that the ministers deemed that the campaign should not only use a defensive approach, “but also educate consumers on using common standards in measuring sustainability based on three dimensions of sustainability, namely environmental, economic, and social, in accordance with the SDGs.:”
In the statement that was issued following the virtual meeting, the minister pointed out as being “of particular concern,” the increasing use of palm oil-free label to discriminate against palm oil, marketing strategy of certain products, and a blatant breach of fair trade.
“Positive campaigns should also be directed at the young generation to have an objective and comprehensive understanding of palm oil and other vegetable oils,” the ministers said.
The meeting also launched the establishment of the CPOPC Scientific Committee, composed of experts from member countries, as a major step in ensuring a more impactful research program to benefit all stakeholders, including smallholders.
“The results of dedicated research would be constructive and pertinent in achieving more effective and impactful campaigns as a counter narrative in an intensive science-based campaign,” it said.
CPOPC’s current membership is composed of Indonesia and Malaysia, the world’s two top palm oil producers which between them account for more than 85 percent of world palm oil supply.
But the ministerial meeting was also attended by representatives of a number of palm oil countries – Columbia, Ghana, Papua New Guinea and Honduras — some of which are planning or are in the process to join the CPOPC.
Malaysia’s Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Mohammad Khairuddin Aman Razali underlined the necessity for palm oil-producing countries to strengthen their cooperation to address foreseeable challenges.
Khairuddin reiterated a recent statement made by Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin bin Hj. Mohd. Yassin, during his official visit to Indonesia earlier in February, on the necessity in combating anti-palm oil campaigns by the European Union.
“Thus, it is important for members and observer countries in combating anti-palm oil campaigns particularly in the EU by utilizing the CPOPC platform,” he pointed out.
Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Airlangga Hartarto stressed the importance for Indonesia and Malaysia to accelerate the implementation of their biodiesel policy to reduce pressure on palm oil prices.
Indonesia is currently implementing a B30 mandatory biodiesel mixture while Malaysia is planning to roll out its B20 mandate.
CPOPC, Hartarto said, was expected to redouble efforts in ensuring remunerative price of palm oil, improvement in sustainability standards, promoting more support for small scale farmers, and stronger solidarity and alliance among all producing countries to defend their common interests in all forums and main consuming countries.
The organization should also champion standards for all vegetable oils in international organizations based on internationally-agreed development goals, especially the UN Sustainable Development Goals, he added.
The meeting suggested that CPOPC continue mainstreaming efforts to support smallholders of the industry, including through the Smallholder Outreach Program involving small-scale farmers in Asia Pacific, Latin America and Central America, and Africa aimed to set-up of a global smallholder alliance platform.
“The platform will allow palm oil smallholders to interact and discuss relevant issues, to expedite the achievement of SDGs 2030, including channeling their voices in global scenes, promoting cooperation in research and development, and training. “
The global alliance between palm oil-producing countries should also be based on the full support and active participation of the smallholders. CPOPC said in the statement that in line with its charter, it remained committed to support the capacity and welfare of small-scale farmers.