Sarawak Smallholders from Malaysia Bring Certified Palm Oil to the Indian Market

In a win for sustainable palm oil, Sarawak palm oil stakeholders from Malaysia and The Solvent Extractors’ Association (SEA) of India signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to accelerate the uptake of certified palm oil from Sarawak smallholders on the Indian market.

The MoU was signed by Dr Suresh Motwani, General Manager, Soy and Palm Oil, Solidaridad Asia; Ajay Jhunjhunwala, President of SEA of India; Napoleon Royal Ningkos, President, DOPPA; and Jimbau Anak Galau, Yang Di-Pertua PVATM Negeri Sarawak

The MOU was signed by Sarawak Dayak Oil Palm Planters Association (DOPPA), Persatuan Veteran Angkatan Tentera Malaysia (PVATM) Negeri Sarawak, SEA of India, and Solidaridad Asia (as the implementing partner) on 9 March 2023, at at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching (BCCK) in Sarawak, Malaysia.

The signing of the MoU was witnessed by the Ministry of Food Industry, Commodity and Regional Development Sarawak (M-FICORD), which is responsible for spearheading the development of agriculture and rural communities in Sarawak, Malaysia. 

India is the largest consumer of palm oil in the world. India’s population will keep growing and so will our requirement for palm. The relationship with Malaysia, I am sure, will keep growing. Malaysia has been one of the major supporters over the years and keeps supplying palm oil to India, and without Malaysia, the Indian edible oil industry will be jeopardized. 

Atul Chaturvedi, Head of Delegates, The Solvent Extractors’ Association, the leading association of edible oil trade in India

The signing of the MOU is a significant step in accelerating market uptake for sustainable palm oil, specially produced by indigenous oil palm smallholders in Sarawak. The partnership will afford smallholders in Sarawak the opportunity to receive a series of training on good and climate-smart agricultural practices to improve their sustainability, productivity, and livelihood. 

Among the areas of cooperation specified in the MoU are: 

  • Supporting sustainable palm oil production and management by independent palm oil smallholders in Sarawak; 
  • Joint collaboration and communication that promote sustainable palm oil in line with United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); 
  • Promoting market access of Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certified palm oil from Sarawak palm oil smallholders on the Indian market.

“I hope that the MOU signing agreement between these parties will accelerate the market access of sustainable palm oil, especially from the indigenous palm oil smallholders that can further increase their sustainability, productivity, and livelihood,” said Tuan Maclaine @ Martin Ben, the Deputy Minister for M-FICORD.

Atul Chaturvedi, Head of SEA Delegates, presents an appreciation plaque to Tuan Maclaine @ Martin Ben, Deputy Minister for M-FICORD
Atul Chaturvedi, Head of SEA Delegates, presents an appreciation plaque to Tuan Maclaine @ Martin Ben, Deputy Minister for M-FICORD

On the same day, a roundtable meeting on ‘Transition Towards Sustainable Palm Oil Production in Sarawak’ was organized by Solidaridad Malaysia. Stakeholders from federal and state governments, international buyers of palm oil, industry players and farmer associations were present. 

The key objective of the roundtable meeting was to facilitate market linkages between international markets and stakeholders in Sarawak through the promotion of business-to-business (B2B) relationships and partnerships. The platform also aims to enhance mutual communication that promotes innovative approaches and showcases solutions for building a sustainable palm oil supply chain in Sarawak. With more support from the markets, the sustainability and livelihoods of Sarawak palm oil smallholders, in particular the indigenous small growers, could be strengthened.

My congratulations go to Solidaridad Network Asia, especially Solidaridad Network Malaysia Berhad, for convening their first-ever roundtable meeting between the government agencies, international markets, and stakeholders in Sarawak. 

Tuan Maclaine @ Martin Ben, Deputy Minister for M-FICORD

The meeting was moderated by Dr Law Chu Chien, Country Manager, Solidaridad Malaysia. Panelists from M-FICORD, DOPPA, and the SEA of India discussed the challenges faced by palm oil smallholders in Sarawak and potential sustainability solutions for tackling the issues. The panelists expressed their willingness in supporting palm oil smallholders through innovative solutions to increase productivity, improve sustainability, and generate an inclusive economy that would benefit all.