Malaysia’s oil palm small farmers have condemned a plan by British supermarket chain Iceland Foods Ltd to remove palm oil from its own brand products by the end of this year.

In a statement, National Association of Smallholders (NASH) president Dato’ Aliasak Ambia decried the move, saying it was “disrespectful and lacking factual basis”.

Iceland through this action longs for the days of colonialism where they tell us what to do from Britain, while taking away our income and our ability to feed our families, he said.

“There is a name for this – colonialism. Rapeseed and sunflower are grown largely in rich countries in Europe. Oil palm is grown in developing countries. Its major producers are all in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America,” he pointed out.

Aliasak said Iceland – a company he described as clearly living in the wrong century – should be ashamed of its “colonial-era” policy that would take food off the plates of small farmers.

He said that, unlike rapeseed oil and sunflower oil, Malaysian palm oil is sustainably produced.

“Iceland’s flimsy environmental claims are easily disproved. The latest European Union research proves that palm oil is not a major factor in global deforestation. In fact, livestock (beef) accounts for 10 times more deforestation than palm oil,” he said, with soybean accounting for more than double.

Rapeseed cultivation uses five times the amount of pesticides compared to oil palm, while growing sunflowers utilises four times more land to produce the same amount of oil.

However, he said there was no sign of Iceland attacking these commodities, which are grown in in the west.

“Double standards. One rule favouring rich countries, another rule discriminating against poorer nations,” Aliasak noted.

He also commented on a video- recording in Borneo by Iceland’s Managing Director Richard Walker, in which the moral high ground was taken while facts on the ground were ignored.

“This is not surprising. His actions literally take money out of the pocket of poor communities,” he said.

NASH, the Federal Land Development Authority, the Dayak Oil Palm Planters Association, the Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority and the MPOC have set up the Faces of Palm Oil grouping in support of Malaysian smallholders.

Source: The Star, April 14, 2018

This is an edited version of the article.


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