The Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) certification needs to be pushed, especially for smallholders, so that the commodity can be accepted in international markets, but government investment and the support of large companies are necessary to attain this, a senior agriculture official said here on Tuesday, April 10, 2018.
“Only with all Indonesian palm oil farmers ISPO certified, Indonesian palm oil can be respected in the eyes of the world,” the Director-General of Plantation at the Agriculture Ministry, Bambang, said.
But he also added that “smallholders” plantation, would be difficult to be certified without government investment and the support of large companies.”
Speaking at an event for the symbolical presentation of part of the premium reaped by Asian Agri for the sale of its sustainable palm oil, to the representatives of some 30,000 plasma farmers from the provinces of Riau and Jambi, Bambang said that the ISPO certification of smallholders was a government commitment to show that the palm oil industry is well and sustainably managed.
He said, unfortunately, only 346 certificates have been issued so far by ISPO and from that amount only four were in the name of smallholder plantations, cooperative or the smallholders themselves.
“From some 14 million hectares of plantation, only a bit more than two million have been ISPO certified. The total ISPO certification from the production side is at 28 percent,” he said.
Bambang said that Indonesian palm oil was under “danger” because many did not want to see palm oil grow and develop. They used a variety of reasons to attack palm oil, including by saying that palm oil plantations destroyed the environment, pushed deforestation, violated social and human rights, caused many conflicts and other reasoning.
“The thing is, as fossil energy is almost depleted, the most efficient plant to produce energy is oil palm. All should be protecting it,” Bambang said. He said he believes the attacks were made because buyers wanted cheap palm oil prices.
“Therefore, until forever, no matter how good the management of Indonesia’s palm oil I think it will always be unable to be free from the bad attacks on our palm oil,” he added.
Indonesia, he said, should continuously put order into its palm oil sector, so that there would be no ground for whatever accusations are leveled against the industry.
“In the midst of these attacks on the palm oil industry, I am asking for support. Let us strengthen Indonesian palm oil for the success of Indonesia,” he said.
Bambang said that the government was not only busy gathering funds, from palm oil for palm oil, through the Palm Oil Fund, but was also busy putting order into the status of plantations as well as encouraging the replanting of smallholders’ plantation as part of efforts to raise their productivity.
He called on governments in the regions as well as the major palm oil plantation companies, to use the momentum of the replanting to bring improvements in Indonesia’s palm oil sector at the national level.
“It is our time to put order into our farmers, the keywords should be: develop smallholder’s plantations. The institutions of our farmers have not yet been able to function properly and that is why that smallholders’ plantations cannot yet be efficient in their various activities,” Bambang added.