The Indonesian palm oil sector is stepping up pressure against environmental watchdog Greenpeace which is accused of not only attacking the nation’s sovereignty but also of threatening the livelihood of millions of palm oil farmers and plantation workers through its recent series of anti-palm oil campaign.
Mukti Sardjono, Executive Director of the Indonesian Association of Palm Oil Producers (GAPKI) said in a press release issued by the organization that with its anti-palm oil campaign, “clearly Greenpeace has harmed our sovereignty as a nation/\.” Greenpeace, he added, also threatened the livelihood of some 17 million farmers and workers in palm oil plantations across the country.
“Do they, these foreign NGOs claiming to be saviors of the environment, have considered the fate of oil palm farmers? If the palm oil industry dies, would these NGOs be ready to provide replacement job opportunities?” asked Sardjono in the release obtained by the Palm Scribe Thursday (22/11).
Smallholders account for 40 percent of the country’s oil palm plantation and their role in the sector is continuing to rise.
Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Panjaitan also came out with a similar statement. After having called on Greenpeace to be more civilized in its protest and criticism, Panjaitan was on Thursday quoted by Sawit Indonesia magazine as questioning the nationalism of Greenpeace Indonesia and saying that he was going to call that the environmental watchdog is audited, legality wise and also its sources of funding.
“I want to propose that Greenpeace Indonesia also is audited. Why is it doing this? Does it know that there are 17.5 million people involved in palm oil? he said, adding that the Greenpeace campaign was causing difficulties for Indonesians.
“Is it still part of the people of Indonesia. If it still is, it should be respecting the people of Indonesia,” Pandjaitan said.
Meanwhile Priyanto, the chairman of Stiper Agriculture Institute Alumni Association that Greenpeace could soon turn into a “new colonialism” with its anti-palm oil campaign that only could benefit foreign powers.
“The Greenpeace NGO also is holding the Indonesian nation in contempt, as if the seriousness of the Indonesian government in putting order into its oil palm plantation through mandatory Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO), the moratorium on new permits, controlling ground and forest fires, and various other government regulations, are meaningless,” Priyanto said in a press release on Thursday.
“We call for a resistance against the Greenpeae NGO and other anti-palm oil NGOs which ate still operating in Indonesia right now,. There is only one word…FIGHT!!!” the release said.
Earlier this week Benny Soetrisno, who heads the Trade departmenbt of the Association of Indonesian Entrepreneurs (Apindo), in a press release called on the government to take the sides of palm oin which it said: “is under the threat of Greenpeace.”
“Greenpeace’s actions have been allowed for too long. The result is like at the present, palm oil exports are being hindered from entering Europe. For this, Indondsian could actually follow the policy taken by India which suspended Greenpeace,” Soetrisno said.
GAPKI’s Sardjono said that the management of oil palm plantations by companies all followed the prevailing Iaws and regulations, including concerning their permit processing, plantation management and palm oil production.
“All oil palm plantation companies in conducting their operations, must first obtain a Plantation Business Permit (IUP) issued by the government, Without this permit, the company cannot operate a plantation,” he said.
Sardjono also said that the land alloted in the IUPs are areas for other uses (APL) and or Convertible Production Forest (HPK) which both necessitate a permit from the Environment and Forestry Ministry to operate, IUPs also require an Environmental Impact Analysis that makes sure that the plantation operation really does not cause environmental damage.
In opening up and developing plantations, oil palm plantation also abide by government rules, including that they have to abide by the Principles and Critesria od the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil 9ISPO) scheme, such as not use fire to clear land, protecting high conservation value land of local communities (such as containing ancestor’s graves, water sources ect.) that they prepare a land contour and cultivation plan for hills, restrict planting to after 50 meters on both sides of rivers ect,
GAPKI deems that plantation companies that are members of the organization were now much more advanced in managing the land fire prevention and mitigation.
A total fo 413 companies have so far obtained ISPO certifiation and it is hoped that next year, all GAPKI company memgers would have processed their ISPO certification.
Sardjono dismissed as untrue a number of accusations made against palm oil plantation companies, that they produced” dirty palm oil,[“ or unsustainable palm oil’
“We also do not concur with the use of dirty palm oil because at the present, both the government and the private sector are striving to accelerate the sustainabiity certification,” Sardjono said.
The palm oil sector, he continued, had now also become a main sector of the economy that could help the country attain its SDGs