Pressures from western non-governmental organisations (NGOs), such as Greenpeace, were frustrating producers in Malaysia and Indonesia, according to Cynthia Ong, Land Empowerment Animals and People executive director, founder and ceo.
There was a need to produce palm oil sustainably, but Malaysian and Indonesian economies would not stop producing palm oil, as it was worth too much to them, she said.
“Palm oil is the main staple of our economy and it’s a very complex product,” she added.
“The communities say they want to plant oil palm because it will put food on their tables and the best option we can present them is RSPO certification.”
The western world had to take stock of its approach in convincing producer countries to be more sustainable, as their efforts were being perceived negatively, said Ong.
“This is not the Hunger Games and the issues on the ground are not entertainment. Whether you like it or not, there is neo-colonialism. It’s a fact and why are we avoiding that conversation? Let’s look at it.
“In Indonesia and Malaysia palm oil is inextricable, we have to get used to that. There’s no way we can say no to palm oil. It’s our bread and butter; it puts food on the table and a roof over our heads.”