Director-General of the Malaysian Palm Oil Board, Dr Choo Yuen May, signing the MoU with the Director of Solidaridad Network Asia, Shatadu Chattopadhayay, in the presence of the Chairman of the Solidaridad Asia Supervisory Board, Teoh Cheng Hai.
Palm oil farmers in Malaysia have a bright future as providers of food and suppliers of renewable energy and raw materials. Palm oil is an extremely efficient oil crop. Compared with other vegetable oils, it is very cost effective, produces high yields on little land, consumes relatively little energy, and can generate almost 10 times the amount of energy consumed in its production.
Dr Choo Yuen May described the MoU as a very important strategic partnership towards achieving high returns from sustainably-cultivated oil palm on smallholdings and promotion of Malaysian sustainable palm oil in international markets. “The momentous signing of the MoU heralds the beginning of an active partnership which will serve as one of the most potent drivers of the sustainability agenda of the Malaysian palm oil industry, notably smallholdings,” she said.
Supporting local communities
Solidaridad seeks to influence and guide sustainable production where it takes place – with the local farmers in their unique situations around the world. “To create a more sustainable and inclusive palm production and trade in price sensitive markets like India and China, new solutions need to be found based on win-win scenarios. Thus far, the palm oil smallholders in Malaysia have largely remained outside the ambit of major sustainability standards. Solidaridad is looking for innovative solutions with partners to ensure impact on the ground and ensure inclusion of smallholders who are not part of any sustainability scheme. We believe that with our long-term global experience in developing and implementing sustainability standards, we can increase the effectiveness of sustainability standards and support its adoption by smallholders,” said Dr Chattopadhayay, regional director for Solidaridad in Asia.
Striving for sustainable trade
With active programmes in all major palm oil producing countries, Solidaridad also facilitates dialogue between the Malaysian palm oil sector and relevant stakeholders from India and China. Such discussions could help increase the supply of sustainable palm oil in these markets. “This collaboration will go beyond certification and lead to the empowerment of Malaysian smallholders to become mainstream players in the global palm oil supply chain”, said the Chairman of the Solidaridad Asia Supervisory Board, Teoh Cheng Hai, at the signing of the agreement.
According to Nico Roozen, executive director of the international Solidaridad Network, this memorandum of understanding represents a commercially viable public-private partnership that can be very powerful. “I believe this partnership can enhance the potential of Malaysian smallholder farmers and workers to increase yields using less land, water and energy whilst ensuring that natural resources are conserved for future generations,” he said.