MILAN, Dec. 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Including smallholders in an ambitious top-down bottom-up sustainability plan means applying expansionary policies and investments tailored to the small and medium-sized productive forces. New EU policies cannot ignore the pivotal role that Smallholders play in food production. Letting them out of the EU policy-making process means creating poverty, social tensions without generating any positive result in terms of sustainability: dialogue is key, sustainability is all about trust and cooperation between producing and consuming countries.
This is the message launched by smallholders who operate in the oil palm supply chain, the beating heart of global production, that gathered in the vibrant conference "Small-Holders: Drivers of Prosperity and Sustainability", promoted by Competere.
Gert van der Bijl, Senior EU Policy Advisor from Solidaridad, "there can be no sustainable production without including smallholders and their socio-economic development, while deforestation cannot be stopped without providing smallholders with the instruments needed to produce sustainably."
For the smallholders Nelsy Vega and Teresa Pena of Colombia, palm oil production means life, hope and development opportunities, both for them and their children, calling the EU not to discourage sustainable production as the ones they are developing. Djono Burhan from the Indonesian Palm Oil Smallholder Association, suggested that "smallholders reap social and economic benefits from palm oil plantations, which supports the development of entire communities, even if longer supply chains are cutting revenues for farmers."
An effective transition to sustainable production brings on challenges, with training being a key. Maria Goldameir Mektania, smallholder, stressed that "farmers need proper training to carry out the transition to ecologically sustainable methods of production, and that if policies and prices of commodities keep changing, smallholders will be the most negatively affected players."
Adzmi Hassan, from National Association of Smallholders Malaysia (NASH), stated that the main challenge in adopting sustainable standards comes from earning incentives, while Juan Alberto Lemus Silva, Agroindustria Palmera San Román, Guatemala, focused on EU policies stating that they "could hamper, rather than incentivize, production in Guatemala by increasing prices and complicating export rules and regulations."
Pietro Paganini, President of Competere concluded the discussion, "The voices of those who work in the sustainable palm oil supply chain lead us to look beyond the reductive and superficial campaigns against it. We are talking about a global production chain that, with transparency and innovation, has long been committed to promoting sustainable projects. " .