By Agence France-Presse
Indonesian palm oil farmer Kawal Surbakti says his livelihood is under attack, but the threat is not from insects or hungry orangutans eating his prized crop.
Indonesian farmer Kawal Surbakti says a planned EU palm oil ban could devastate his income (AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)
Half a world away, the European Parliament is moving to ban the use of palm oil in biofuels, while British grocer Iceland has announced it will stop using the commodity over concerns that it causes widespread environmental destruction.
Losing the key European market worries small farmers like Surbakti and millions of others in Indonesia and neighboring Malaysia -- the world's top two producers -- as prices drop for an oil found in everything from biscuits and sweets to cosmetics and vehicle gas tanks.
"I've suffered serious losses," the 64-year-old Surbakti said from his two-hectare (five acre) farm on Indonesia's Sumatra island.
"Before, I could save up a little money but now I can't even do that."
Across the Malacca Strait in Malaysia, grower Mohamad Isa Mansor issued a dire prediction as he plucked reddish-orange fruits from his trees.
"If the EU succeeds in the ban, I'm dead," he said at his small plantation in the coastal town of Ijok.
"Without this crop we will be living in poverty. It is the source of income for thousands of people (here)," he added.