PETALING JAYA: The palm oil industry is a major source of income that has helped eradicate poverty and enhance social mobility among farmers.

The European Union’s (EU) intended ban on palm oil will affect the quality of life of 650,000 small farmers globally and reduce the income of those in the palm oil industry.

We cannot keep silent and allow this to happen, said Tiow Weng Theong who is an advocate with Planters United, a non-governmental organisation.

“Europe is the world’s second largest palm oil importer. The EU ban under the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) by 2030 will lead to a gloomy future for Malaysia’s palm oil exports as palm oil is a major feedstock for biofuels,” he said in a statement.

“Today, about one-third or 600,000 tonnes out of two million tonnes of Malaysian palm oil exported to the EU is used for biofuel production. Malaysia supplies 212,000 tonnes of palm oil-based biodiesel to Europe.”

Small farmers manage almost 40% of Malaysia’s 5.81 million hectares of palm plantations, Tiow said.

“On average, small farmers with 3.9 hectares of land can earn a monthly net income of RM2,000 to RM2,100. They are typically from the bottom 40% income bracket of the population,” he added.

“Imagine if these small farmers lose their primary source of income because of the EU ban. Not only will this have a huge impact on the nation’s tax revenue and economic growth, it will also bring negative effects to their families.

“How are small farmers going to cope with the daily expenses of their families, their children’s education, and the worsening inflation rate?”