- Indonesia’s Smallholders call EUDR “a violation of human rights” ahead of protest
- Protesters dwarf Western-backed smallholder groups
- EU officials tell smallholders to “buy mobile phones”
- Brazil sees EUDR as threat to sovereignty, drifts to China
After the protest by Malaysia’s smallholder farmers against the EU last week, Indonesian farmers have declared their objections too, with a protest planned for Wednesday March 29.
In the lead up to the protest, farmer groups have said that “discrediting palm oil as our source of livelihood for 17 million oil palm farmers and palm oil workers is a violation of human rights.”
The country’s largest smallholder group, APKASINDO, told local media that
“Palm oil exports to Europe have the potential to be hampered because it is mandatory to show deforestation-free certification; and other traceability is a very burdensome thing for smallholders. This obligation is impossible for farmers to fulfill because it requires an international certification body and is expensive.”
APKASINDO already estimates that the EU’s various policies have depressed prices for small farmers.
According to news reports, smallholders will march on the EU Embassy and present petitions and demands to EU officials.
APKASINDO represents around 3.8 million farmer member families across Indonesia with 138 offices across the country. The action is being supported by other farmer groups ASPEKPIR, representing plasma farmers, and SAMADE, a farmer advocacy group.
APKSASINDO’s opposition to the regulation stands in direct contrast to fringe farmer groups that have claimed implementation for small farmers will be straightforward. These farmer groups appear to receive significant funding from Western NGOs to lobby in favour of the EU’s position.
The prominence of these groups – that are often unknown to Indonesian government officials — in EU consultations and programs has resulted in an assumption that EU staff – particularly those on the ground in the region – are simply choosing things they want to hear, rather than confronting reality.
DG ENVI to Palm Smallholders: Buy Mobile Phones
A rumour emerging from Brussels is that some in the European Commission simply think that smallholders should ‘buy mobile phones’ in order to comply with the EU Deforestation Regulation.
Whether completely true or not, the attitude expressed by European policymakers speaks to a complete disconnect between Berlaymont and the rest of the world.
Although true that most smallholders do, in fact, own mobile phones, the idea that geolocation systems can be rolled out through Indonesia’s mobile phone system in a straightforward manner is simply ludicrous.
In addition to the millions of data points and verification points needed to comply with the regulation, the idea that the country’s privacy regulations can simply be overridden completely demonstrates the ignorance rife in Brussels.
Brazil: “Protectionism disguised as an environmental concern”
A question that has been asked over the past month is the position of Brazil and Mercosur in relation to the EU Deforestation Regulation.
According to news reports from the region, Mercosur still opposes the approach. After a recent meeting between the EU and Mercosur, officials from Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated:
“Concern was also expressed about the effect of unilateral European measures, in particular the recent anti-deforestation law, on the future use of concessions already negotiated in the agreement … There was also fear about the systemic effects of the new European approach, published in June 2022, to seek, through its bilateral trade agreements, to change multilateral environmental regimes and reduce the ability of other countries to determine their public policies according to their own priorities.”
Mauro Riviera, Brazil’s Foreign Minister, has stated in no uncertain terms that “Protectionism disguised as an environmental concern does not help at all and will not be accepted.”
The Brazil question is being made more problematic by the EU’s attempts to revive the EU-Mercosur trade agreement. Opposition to the agreement among member states – largely because of the Amazon – has prompted to the European Commission to attempt to renegotiate the Trade and Sustainable Development
Brazil’s parliament though its agriculture committee has previously pushed for a regulation similar to the EU’s due diligence response on forests, i.e. a legality standard.
President Lula seems less concerned with placating Europe than Brussels may have hoped following his re-election, orienting his government towards Beijing. China’s position is that it is seeking more agricultural exports from Brazil, not less. Perhaps Brussels should be paying attention.