Joko Widodo in presidential debate on 17 February 2019

The second round of presidential debate held on Sunday, February 17, 2019, began to discuss issues surrounding the Environment, Natural Resources, and Food and Energy.

The debate was only attended by the two presidential candidates without their VP, was important because the questions given by panelists who were mostly from academics discussed many important issues, with a special segment discussing the issue of oil palm.

The question thrown by one of the debating host Tommy Tjokro, who asked how the attitudes of the two presidential candidates for the palm oil issue which, “Although it is a strategic commodity because it contributes the largest foreign exchange reserves for Indonesia, still leaves several social and economic impacts”.

Presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, who was given the first opportunity to answer the question, stating that oil palm is an important and promising commodity for Indonesia.

Prabowo Subianto emphasizes the importance of food security in Indonesia

“We will use palm oil products for biofuel and biodiesel, so that we can increase the income of our farmers who are currently falling,” he explained, adding that Indonesia’s current efforts to produce B20 must be increased, citing examples of Brazilians who have been able producing up to B90.

“We have to consequently improve the welfare of our farmers, so we need to implement a ‘Nucleus Estate Plantation (PIR)’ where there are more plasma farmers, so that people can get the values for the hard work of their products,” he said.

The Nucleus Estate Plantation (PIR) is a system of developing an area of new openings with large plantations as the core that builds and guides the surrounding community plantations as plasma, in a system of mutually beneficial and sustainable cooperation. This pattern was first introduced during the reign of the late President Suharto in the 1970s.

According to GAPKI, Indonesia’s palm oil contribution to foreign exchange in 2018 is estimated to reach 20.54 billion dollars, down 11 percent compared to 2017, which reached to 22.97 billion dollars.

In response to Prabowo’s statements, President Joko Widodo stated that Indonesia’s palm oil production had reached 46 million tons per year, and involving at least 16 million farmers, which is a very large number.

“B20 production has reached 98 percent and now Indonesia is headed for B100, so that the total palm oil production will go into biofuels, as such we do not have to depend on oil imports,” President Jokowi explained.

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