RSPO Has Failed Oil Palm Growers

“The RSPO has failed oil palm growers. There are 4.78 million tonnes of RSPO-certified oil in the market. What’s the point of producing more when it can’t even gain access into France?” said Malaysian Palm Oil Council chief executive officer Tan Sri Yusof Basiron.

“Planters are not adequately represented in the RSPO. You can see for yourself, the resolutions put forward by oil palm growers are repeatedly outvoted, year after year,” he said.

Yusof was speaking to Business Times on the sidelines of a forum organised by the Palm Oil Refiners Association of Malaysia here yesterday.

In a separate interview, Malaysian Estate Owners Association (MEOA) president Boon Weng Siew concurred that the RSPO has deviated from its original intent.

When asked to comment on recent developments of the RSPO meeting in Singapore earlier this week, Boon said oil palm planters do not agree with any change to the existing eight Principles and 39 Criteria, particularly on land use and labour.

He explained how Malaysia’s small- and mid-sized oil palm estates are already practising sustainable oil palm planting by virtue of compliance with the country’s environmental and labour laws.

Established in 1931, MEOA represents 153 small- and medium-sized estates of more than 40 hectares. 

Boon noted that all oil palm planters, be they smallholders or estate owners, comply with the Environmental Quality Act 1974 and the Environmental Impact Assessment Order 1987.

“We prepare and submit EIA reports for agriculture land development covering an area of 500 hectares or more. Open burning of plant residue is prohibited,” he said.

Apart from eco-friendly laws, oil palm planters observe the Employment Act, the Industrial Relations Act and the Minimum Standard of Housing and Amenities Act.

Estate owners are not required, by law, to provide accommodation, schools, clinics and places of worship but many of MEOA members do so as part of their corporate social responsibilities. 

“However, when accommodation for workers is provided, the site and buildings must comply with the Minimum Standard of Housing and Amenities Act 1990. The clinic also has to comply with the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998,” Boon said.

“Malaysia’s palm oil production is already sustainable by virtue of compliance with national environmental and labour laws,” he added.

Western environment activists – without providing scientific evidence that can be verified – have vehemently claimed that oil palm planting on peatland pollutes the air. They lobby for the inclusion of greenhouse gas and carbon footprints calculator in the RSPO principles and criteria. 

Boon said oil palm planters disagree with such a move as there are no cogent scientific findings to justify such a consideration.

“Credibility and accountability are critical in any certification system. Since the RSPO said it is willing to consider such ludicrous claims, one can conclude the RSPO is detached from reality,” Boon said. 

Source : Business Times

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