As the world’s largest palm oil producer, Indonesia needs to have clarity in its palm oil politics, regarding its top export commodity that provides the livelihood for millions of Indonesians, according to Political Observer JB Kristiadi.
“We hope Indonesian government understands the role and potential of the palm oil industry in providing prosperity for its people,” Kristiadi told The Palm Scribe during the Second International Conference and Expo on Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil 2018.
He explained that the clarity of palm oil politics is needed in light of attacks and pressure from overseas, especially from countries with interests threatened by palm oil. Various strategies and tactics are devised in order for Indonesia’s palm oil not to grow too fast as it jeopardizes those countries.
Kristiadi believed that palm oil is really promising for it contributes to reaching the national goal, that is, to make the country and its people prosperous.
Agriculture Ministry Plantation Director General Bambang, MM, previously told the conference that palm oil contributed Rp471.5 trillion to Indonesia’s national economy in 2017. Its exports reached $31.8 billion in the same year, while the national output achieved 37.8 million tons, the highest level ever recorded in Indonesian history.
With such production level, Indonesia has become the world’s top palm oil producer and exporter, and its crude palm oil (CPO) accounts for more than half of the world’s supply.
Palm oil also provides the livelihood for about 30 million people in Indonesia. The plantations cover 14.03 million hectares, of which 5.61 million hectares belong to smallholders.
Kristiadi hoped that Indonesia government would make palm oil sector as its priority so that the commodity can be accepted in highly competitive markets overseas while at the same time, it can bring prosperity to its people.
“Regulations related to palm oil industry must be planned carefully and should not overlap. At present, there are many unclear regulations,” he said.
Kristiadi added that palm oil politics is politics at the national level, which is still a mess and not easy to resolve.
He believed that it is necessary for the society to play an active role in unraveling this political mess and supporting the palm oil industry.
“The society must be backed up by rational opinions. When their opinions are distorted by interest and prejudice, chaos will occur. The public will then be irrational as well. This is our challenge,” he said.
According to Kristiadi, public opinion is currently misled by some groups of people with the desire for power, but he did not explain any further.