The Palm Scribe

Mahendra Siregar: The Black Campaign of Palm Oil, Opportunity for Indonesia

European countries have aggressively been issuing regulations cornering Indonesia as the largest producer of crude palm oil (CPO). The regulations are driven by a black campaign focusing on deforestation. Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) Director Mahendra Siregar, however, thinks that the black campaign can be an opportunity to promote Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO).


“Currently, Indonesia is not only the largest palm oil producer but also the largest palm oil consumer, so we are actually the one determining the market. This is our chance to promote ISPO,” Mahendra told The Palm Scribe during International Conference Expo on Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil 2018 in Jakarta on Thursday, April 12, 2018. Promotion can be targeted to the largest Indonesian palm oil export destinations, such as Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Turkey, Nigeria, and China.

Mahendra admitted that back in 1990, as much as 77% of Indonesia’s palm oil production was exported to Europe, but in 2017, only 17% of Indonesia’s palm oil was exported to Europe. “I think the European palm oil market is not very significant to Indonesia at the moment, and this is the mindset we must have,” said Mahendra who also believes that any form of black campaigns can be handled.

To promote ISPO, it needs to be regularly updated and improved to consistently adapt to the existing dynamics for the quality of palm oil production. So far, ISPO certification has been an obligation for all palm oil producers in Indonesia, while it is still voluntary for the independent smallholders.

There are still many internal things to done in regards to ISPO. Processing and Marketing of Plantation Products Director at Ministry of Agriculture, Dedi Junaedi said that so far 346 certifications have been issued and only four are given to the union of independent farmers in villages.

Previously, a British supermarket, Iceland, implemented a policy of dismissing the use of palm oil for all products they sell on the grounds that oil palm is the main cause of deforestation. “Certified sustainable palm oil currently does not currently limit deforestation and it does not currently limit the growth of oil palm plantations,” Iceland’s Director Richard Walker told the BBC. Richard also said there was no such thing as properly sustainable palm oil.

Norway has run similar anti-palm oil campaigns. The Norwegian government imposes regulations requiring companies to disclose their impacts on the environment as part of its effort to reduce deforestation. As a result, Norway’s consumption of palm oil is reduced by two thirds in 2018.

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