The Palm Scribe

Indonesian Palm Oil Smallholders Reject Mandatory ISPO Certification

Photo: AFP

Indonesian palm oil smallholders are rejecting a government plant to come out with a presidential regulation making it mandatory for them to obtain sustainability certification from the Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) saying that the conditions were not yet favorable.

“Because we are not ready yet,” Secretary-General of the Indonesian Association of Palm Oil Smallholders (APKASINDO), Rino Afrino told The Palm Scribe in a short text message on Tuesday (26/11). He stressed that the association was not rejecting ISPO but the points in the presidential regulation on ISPO which would make it mandatory for smallholders to meet that national standard. The presidential regulation, according to officials, is awaiting the signature of the head of state.

The five-year transition period before all smallholders are expected to be certified, Rino said, also has the potentials of the policy unable to meet the deadline. He pointed out the fact that even among palm oil companies, the number of those who had obtained ISPO certification was still low.

“Looking at the realization for companies, it has only reached 30 percent within the eight years since ISPO became mandatory in 2011,” he argued. The government had initially planned the deadline for ISPO certification for 2014 but it was later extended to 2020.

“Therefore, the government must focus on seeking a solution to the obstacles that have resulted that low realization rate,” Rino said.

He also said that smallholders were still facing a host of challenges and problems if they wanted to get certified. He cited the matter of land legality, the limited capabilities of human resources and their unclear cultivation practices.

He also pointed to the fact that many of smallholder land were in forest areas that were off limit for cultivation. One of the prerequisites of ISPO certification is that the land should not be in forest areas. APKASINDO data showed that some 54 percent of smallholder land planted with oil palm was in forest areas.

“There is still a lot of homework to complete on the way to ISPO,” he said.

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