PANGKALAN BUN – A Lecturer at the Agriculture Faculty of the Yogyakarta Agriculture Institute (INSTIPER) Yogyakarta, Enny Rahayu, said that vocational high shools should in the future have subjects in palm oil plantation cultivation and management.
ILLUSTRATION. Plantation workers prepare to do their daily task.
“Our hopes to the provincial or district governments, is that vocational high school should have courses in palm oil cultivation and management,” Rahayu said on the margin of a training for teachers of vocational high schools in Pangkalan Bun Central Kalimantan on Monday according to Fajar.
Rahayu said that vocational high schools needed to have subjects on palm oil because this commodity is the biggest foreign exchange earner. In 2016, palm oil exports reached $17.8 billion. Palm oil plantations in Indonesia currently reached 11,5 million hectares with 4,5 million hectares of them in the hands of small farmers.
The irony, she said, was that the productivity of the farmers‘ palm oil plantations stood at only 45 percent of those of large private plantations. “The technology in the management of palm oil production is still conventional, This has become a challenge for all sons and daughters of Indonesia, We have to engage in intensification,” she said.
On the other hands, Rahayu said that there are no agricultural commodities in Indonesia which can win trade competitions overseas except for palm oil. Indonesia is the largest contributor of palm oil, followed by Malaysia.
However, palm oil is also facing various challenges, including negative campaigns, from both rival vegetable oil producers or from environmental activists, germ plasm, carbon stock, child labour, fires and human rights violations.
“Cost efficiency and sustainability have become a must and the keyword is skilled and competent human resources. There are many vocational school graduates who are unemployed and those who get absorbed is just about 30 percent. The right and friendly technology is also needed, as well as a healthy and independent institution,” Rahayu said.
Human resources is an important issue in palm oil plantations. The Indonesian Palm Oil Board (DMSI) is projecting that there will be a jump in demand for human resources in the palm oil sector, including in palm oil mills.
DMSI said that in 2011, there were 3,8 million workers directly employed in palm oil plantations (on farm). Meanwhile, the number of workers in palm oil plants reached 58,067 people, based on the assumption that there are about 587 mills.
.With the continuing expansion of palm oil plantations, on farm workers are expected to increase to 6.3 million in 2030 or twice the number in 2011. Meanwhile, the demand for workers in plants, assuming that there will be 1,123 mills by then, is expected to stand at 111.128 million people 2030.