Four European Parliament members are impressed with how the Malaysian government and its palm oil industry have successfully reduced their country’s poverty. As reported in the Borneo Post, Malaysian palm oil cultivation is praised for providing unparalleled upward social mobility to independent farmers. The four European Parliament members visited Malaysia to get a first-hand look at the country’s oil palm plantations.
The Parliament members called Malaysian palm oil the “Jewel in the Crown” as the largest source of agricultural export revenue for the country. Malaysian palm oil exports account for 25 percent of the global export trade in oils and fats, and 42 percent of the global palm oil trade. The healthy oil is exported to more than 150 countries worldwide, including the United States and the European Union.
Richard Ashworth, a European Parliament member from the United Kingdom, said, “Without a doubt, the Malaysian government has done extraordinary work, lifting tens of thousands of smallholders out of ‘absolute poverty’, giving them a decent standard of living. That’s impressive, intelligent and it has worked very well.”
Malaysian smallholders cultivate plantations no larger than 40 hectares. These family farmers care for nearly 40 percent of Malaysia’s oil palm-planted areas. Smallholders are either self-represented or participate in organizations such as the National Association of Smallholders (NASH) and the Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (SALCRA). These organizations help smallholders receive a fair, sustainable income, as well as help the greater community by building infrastructure. SALCRA and NASH also help smallholders secure legal land-ownership rights. Prior to the groups’ formation, many plantation owners had no legal proof they owned the land their families have farmed for generations.
Malaysian oil palm cultivation involves approximately 207,000 smallholders, tending 807,000 hectares. Their average monthly income is RM 1,356. This is significantly higher than the Malaysian national poverty line of RM 529.
Ashworth praised this sustainable commodity. “The crop is incredibly productive and has quite the formidable production capacity, making Malaysia well-suited to meet the world’s growing demand for oils and fats. When I get back home, firstly, I want to tell (my people) how well your government has done.”
This is not the first time the Malaysian palm oil cultivation has been praised. The World Bank also lauded the country’s growth, poverty reduction and racial harmony.