The Union of Oil Pam Farmers (SPKS) is hoping for an extension of Presidential Instruction (Inpres) number eight of 2018 on the Postponing and Evaluation of Oil Palm Permits and for Enhancing the Productivity of Oil Palm Plantations, its chairman said.
“According to us this Inpres does indeed need to be extended,” SPKSA Chairman Mansuetus Darto said during an online discussion last week, adding that the Inpres stipulated that the postponing and evaluation of oil palm plantation permits would be for three years.
The Ipres which was issued by President Joko Widodo in September 2018 in essence instructed the Minister for Environment and Forestry to postpone the release or swapping of forest for oil palm plantation and to the Minister for Agriculture to boost the productivity of oil palm plantation especially those of smallholders,
Darto said that the end of the Covid-19 pandemic which has badly impacted the economy, could not be known and that 2021, the year the postponement and evaluation of oil palm plantation permit expires, the economy would certainly still be on recovery mode.
“A number of regulation are indeed not effective to be implemented at the present in order to do something concrete for the farmers, because of this Covid-19 situation,” Darto said, explaining why, among others, his organization wanted the Inpres to be extended.
“And if it is extended, there is a need for government regulations and also for budgets, mainly to allow districts, especially their agriculture office, to effectively do their works as required in the Inpres,” he added
He also said that based on the monitoring that his organization had conducted between January 2018 and March this year on a number of main oil palm producing regions, it appeared that there was no apparent increase of productivity of the oil palm plantations there.
“In general, it is true that the results of our monitoring showed an absence of development, there were no intervention programs, be that from the government or from the private sector, for the empowerment and also enhancement of productivity of farmers around company concessions or in their respective districts,” Darto said,
He said that in his observations, the president wanted with this Inpres to push for the mapping of oil palm plantation, especially of smallholders, and step up guidance for farmer institutions as part of the optimalization and intensification needed to improve productivity of the farmers’ oil palm plantation.
“The current farmers’ institutions should be improved and have its position strengthened so that they have a clear role in assisting smallholders in rural areas to step up their productivity,” he said. The Inpres also wanted all oil palm plantations, be that of people, private enterprises or the state, to get certified under the Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) scheme.
Darto said that the Inpres was not running smoothly for a number of reasons, the first one being that politically, the coordinating ministry which should have been the lead sector, had not been able to exercise well its coordination function with the provinces, districts and the technical ministries as well as in issuing technical implementing regulations.
He also said there was a lack of clarity regarding the mapping, for example on what would happen after the mapping had been completed. It remained unclear whether farmers who have plantations in APL or in forest areas receive incentives or be facilitated in obtaining their land legality documents. At the present, the farmers were also burdened with substantial costs if they wanted to process their demand for a land title or a land cultivation registration document (STDB.)
“The main point, is that there is no sources of budget mentioned in this Inpres. Where would the funding come from to implement this inpres?” said Darto.
He said that since the key executors were the technical offices at the district level, these offices so far received no adequate funding to conduct the mapping or to strengthen farmer’s institutions. He added that in this regard, the Palm Oil Fund Management Agency (BPDPKS) could actually provide some funding assistance to the regions.
Farmers or their institutions could also not yet see what benefit they could derive from getting certified under the ISPO scheme.,
“The last point is that there are no concrete steps taken by the business sector to build up these farmers’ institutions, to clean up their supply chain from third party involvement and also in how they can help smallholders around their concessions,” Darto said.