“M’sians, stand with us to defend our main commodity: palm oil”

IN the spirit of our 65th Merdeka Day celebration, the Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry (MPIC) has produced a three-minute video clip titled “The Land is Ours”, depicting the toiling of a smallholder family on a piece of vacant land to cultivate oil palm crop.

The video is timely to showcase to the world – and especially to serve as an eye-opener to countries that are practising sanctions against palm oil – that Malaysia has over 461,303 smallholders and another 1.8 mil people who are surviving only on income generated from the palm oil trade.

To silence the western propaganda machinery, especially over allegations of deforestation, the video clip highlights how the family of three (father, mother and daughter) was granted a permit by the land authority to cultivate oil palm, as opposed to illegally doing so.

This further reinforces the notion that every farmer in the world has a right to plant crops and earn a living – something that is guaranteed by the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP).

Published in an effort to champion the goodness of palm oil, which is an initiative by MPIC, the video clip is intended to portray the very fact that MPIC upholds the said UN declaration and defends the rights of every landowner to farm for a living.

(Photo credit: Reuters)


After all, sanctions on palm oil not only violate the UN declaration but also destroys the livelihood of families.

Recall that the Government in 2019 declared that the expansion of oil palm in cultivated areas may not exceed 6.5 mil hectares. In 2022, Malaysia utilised 5.8 mil hectares for oil palm cultivation – both by smallholders and major plantation firms – which leaves the balance of 700,000 hectares allocated for oil palm crops yet to be utilised.

“Oil palm not to blame”

Although agriculture is often cited as the major culprit of global deforestation, it has to be stressed that as of 2019, 24% of land use was allocated for livestock, while crop cultivation occupied 29%.

Of the 29% chunk of deforestation due to agricultural crops, it has to be highlighted that the crops which contributed most to deforestation are soybean (19%) and maize (11%), while oil palm contributed a meagre 8% with paddy or rice at 6% and sugarcane at 5%.

Therefore, Malaysia is determined to foster a cordial engagement with the European Union (EU) and the US in search of a win-win solution that can benefit the palm oil industry at large — even though both have remained staunch opponents of the palm oil trade since 2003.

With the EU, engagements are currently being held through various platforms, such as the ASEAN-EU Joint Working Group, seminar programmes or webinars, and dialogues or discussions via economic and palm oil promotion missions.

Aligned with these efforts are two initiatives, namely the Malaysia-EU partnership initiative, aimed at enhancing the sustainability of the palm oil trade, and the partnership under the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC).

Under the Malaysia-EU partnership initiative, two programmes stand out – the Sustainability of Malaysian and Indonesian Palm Oil project (KAMI) and the National Initiatives for Sustainable and Climate Smart Oil Palm Smallholders (No-SCOPS) with the Netherlands.

MPIC is determined to continue to fight against the anti-palm campaign to ensure the rights of smallholders will continue to be defended and their sources of livelihood will not be blocked by anti-palm oil propaganda by some western blocks.

We will continue to advocate the misconceptions about palm oil through the global movement to champion the goodness of palm oil.

I would like to call on all Malaysians to stand up and fight with us to defend our country’s main commodity in the spirit of “Malaysian Family Strong Together”. — Aug 30, 2022


Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin is the Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister and Ampang MP.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia. 

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