The Indonesian government only managed to replant slightly more than half its targeted 180,000 hectares of smallholder’s oil palm plantation in 2020, an official said
“Last year, only 94,000 hectares were realized, and that means only around 52 percent of the target of 180,000 hectares set for last year. This year, our target is also around 180,000 hectares too. Hopefully, we can meet that,” said Musdhalifah Mahmud, Deputy for food and agribusiness coordination with the Coordinating Ministry of the economy as quoted by the Association of Indonesian Palm Oil Producer (GAPKI) in a written statement.
Mahmud said that since the program was launched in 2016, only 196,000 hectares of smallholder’s oil palm plantation had been replanted. The government had set an annual target of replanting 180,000 hectares of smallholder plantation.
Mahmud who was quoted as addressing a GAPKI discussion, said that one of the reasons behind the low performance in replanting was the matter of the legal status of smallholder’s plantations, as had earlier been stated by the Chairman of the Association of Indonesian Oil Palm Farmers, Gulat Manurung at the same occasion earlier in the day.
Manurung said that the legal status of plantations that needed to be replanted was still the main problem that hindered an acceleration of the government’s replanting program because many of them were actually located in areas designated as forest areas.
Without any certainty regarding the status of such plantations, they would not be able to meet the criteria required for eligibility for the replanting program even though the program was aimed at helping oil palm smallholders who owns or operate around 41 percent of the country’s some 16.38 million hectares of oil palm plantations.
“Regarding the matter of forest areas, we are waiting for a SOP from the Environment and Forestry Ministry which is also currently preparing implementing regulations for the Job Creation Law that was issued by the central government, But the spirit is, of course, how we can accelerate the replanting process that is still too slow,” Mahmud said.
GAPKI Deputy Chairman Kacuk Sumarto who moderated the discussion, drawing from the discussions, the other problems that slowed down the acceleration of the replanting program was the matter of partnership between replanting participants and their partner companies, the matter of financial and banking assistance, the living cost support for farmers while their new crop could not yet yield harvest and a number of administrative problems such as land titles, and the validity of the required documents.
Heru Tri Widarto, Director fo annual crop and refresher crops at Agriculture Ministry’s General Directorate for plantation, said that the government had actually already prepared to mitigate these problems, including providing matching funding through small people’s credits and a number of program to plant secondary crops such as corn, that farmers could plant with the assistance of the government as part of efforts to replace the absence of revenues while the replanted oil palm could not yet start being productive. As example is corn which farmers could plant among their yet unproductive oil palm trees.
“I think there are various solutions to the problems of the farmers. But many farmers are lacking information related to the smallholder’s oil palm replanting program and therefore maybe there is a need for a more intense promotion among farmers so that they really can understand the replanting program,” Widarto said.
Sunari, Director for fund raising at the Oil Palm Plantation Fund Management Agency (BPDPKS), said that his institution was trying to find a solution to all problems that hindered the replanting program. As part of the solution to provide extra sources of revenue for farmers, BPDPKS has been studying the option of the commercial production of brown sugar from oil palms.
“But more important that this all is that there should be a commitment from all sides, especially from the heads of districts, to facilitate the process of the replanting program so that it can be quickly realized,” he said.
Mahmud said that in the near future a coordination meeting with heads of districts and mayors would be convened in order to allow the acceleration of the replanting program. “This coordination meeting will be attended by the Ministry of Home Affairs, heads of district and mayors, to facilitate the replanting program as a national program that must be made into a success,” she said. (*)