PETALING JAYA: Plantation and commodities minister Johari Ghani has called on the European Union (EU) to end its “arbitrary and unjustifiable discrimination” against palm oil.

“After all, palm oil is the most productive oilseed crop of all,” he said in a comment published in the EU’s The Parliament Magazine yesterday.

Johari said palm oil currently yields an average of 3.31 metric tonnes per hectare (MT/ha), significantly higher than soybean (O.43 MT/ha), rapeseed (0.78 MT/ha) and sunflower (0.76 MT/ha).

“This means it uses less land, less fertliser and fewer other inputs,” he said, adding that Malaysia’s palm oil is capable of competing strongly in a fair market by offering lower prices and assuring global consumers a high quality.

The minister also called on the EU to act fairly in the enforcement of its strict environmental and sustainability laws and targets.

Acknowledging the need to support global efforts to protect the environment, Johari reaffirmed Malaysia’s commitment to attaining its Net Zero targets and all associated environmental goals.

“We will maintain a minimum 50% of our land as forest area (the global average is 31%); new mandatory certification laws have been introduced such as the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) standard; and a serious commitment is in place for an energy transition plan to reach Net Zero emissions by 2050,” he wrote.

However, Johari said Malaysia’s success in attaining those targets are also dependent on the actions of its trading partners.

The EU must reciprocate by showing fairness and lending the appropriate support during a “difficult transition period” given the country’s status as a developing nation, he said.

Johari said Malaysians have taken big strides towards better protection of the environment, but are also concerned for the security and the prosperity of their families and communities.

“For many people, those (environmental) advances are relatively new, and relatively fragile,” he observed.

For that reason, Johari said the country must be allowed to meet its economic targets so that all Malaysians can be assured of their social and financial wellbeing.

The minister said the EU has a huge role to play in this regard.

Although the MSPO ensures that Malaysia is well-positioned to fulfil EU environmental traceability requirements, Johari said regard must also be had for the 450,000 small farmers engaged in oil palm cultivation.

“They do not have the technological sophistication demanded by EU rules, and need more time and flexibility.

“If the EU wishes to bring developing countries with them on the Net Zero journey, it should not deny small farmers the ability to put food on the table for their families and communities,” he said.

Johari also called on the EU to accord due respect and recognition for the progress Malaysia has achieved to date.

“The EU could support Malaysia by recognising the value that MSPO brings, as well as the value that Malaysia provides to the world by protecting 50% of land as a permanent forest area,” he wrote.

The minister said Malaysia’s commitment to protecting tropical ecosystems, biodiversity and CO2 sequestration are “efforts worthy of support and recognition”.


Sumber : Free Malaysia Today