The European Union is limiting the palm oil consumption, making it hard for the industry to grow in the European market, especially after UK supermarket Iceland banned palm oil in its own-brand products in a bid to halt the ongoing environmental destruction. Palm oil farmers despair at what will happen to their livelihoods due to the boycott.
Mohtar, a palm oil farmer from Sekadau regency, West Kalimantan, is upset with the palm oil ban by the EU. According to him, the farmers have implemented all existing regulations including the environmental protection. “We know how to care for the environment by the certification standards. I can’t believe they (the EU) are thinking of banning palm oil,” he told The Palm Scribe.
Mohtar also said that it would harm the palm oil farmers and cause major national problems if the boycott was imposed. “There is a significant number of palm oil farmers in Indonesia, 70% of whom have located in Kalimantan alone. What would happen if the ban was imposed? This could be a national crisis.” Mohtar stressed that palm oil has become the backbone industry of Indonesia.
The Government’s role is necessary to fight for the lives of people who have been dependent on the palm oil commodity. “We have done our best. Do not let the palm oil industry continue to be a scapegoat, the Government should be consistent in making sure that our voice is heard!” Mohtar said.
Meanwhile, Malaysian palm oil farmers protest the ban by the European Parliament, claiming that it would threaten the livelihood of millions. As quoted from The Guardian, Hussain Mohamed, a farmer who has had his plantation for over 30 years, was furious at the EU plan. “I’ve spent all my money on the palm oil farm, I have recently planted new trees that will last for the next 25 years, and my whole family relies on this. It’s how my kids afford to study,” Mohamed said.
Indonesian Palm Oil Association (GAPKI) Task Force Head Sumarjono Saragih believes that pressure from Europe is understandable from the economic point of view, especially when most of the world’s palm oil production is dominated by Indonesia and Malaysia. “As long as palm oil is not produced in Europe, there will always be pressure for Indonesia,” said Saragih.
Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) Director Mahendra Siregar said that Indonesia should not worry about the palm oil boycott by Europe since only 17% of Indonesia’s palm oil output since 2017 is exported to Europe. “For Indonesia, European palm oil market is no longer significant. We should have this mindset,” said Mahendra when met by The Palm Scribe.