The Palm Scribe

Sawit Watch: Presidential Instruction on Sustainable Palm Oil Fails to Address Root of Problems

Presidential Instruction number 6 of 2019 on the management of a sustainable palm oil industry for 2019-2024, recently signed by President Joko Widodo, has failed to address the root problems in the industry, including the problems faced by farmers and the agrarian conflicts in palm oil plantations, a palm oil industry watchdog said on Tuesday (3/12).

“Based on our analysis, there are still many root problems in the palm oil industry that have remained untouched by this policy. Such as the problems of palm oil farmers and the agrarian conflicts in oil palm plantations. To attain a sustainable oil palm plantation, its various fundamental problems need to be settled,” Inda Fatinaware, Executive Director of Sawit Watch said in a press release.

The presidential instruction which contains five main mandates assigned to twelve recipients for implementation in line with their respective tasks, functions, and authorities, Inda said, also tended towards a write off of those forest areas which have already become oil palm plantations.

 “We also found indications of a tendency towards a write off of forest areas that have been converted into oil palm plantations, because oil palm plantations in forest areas of large companies, that account for 65 percent, have not been touched by this presidential instruction,” Inda said.

She said that if there were no changes in its implementation, it would experience the same fate as the Presidential Instruction on Moratorium and Palm Oil Evaluation that has produced insignificant results.

“Hopefully it would not come to that. Besides that, the single management pattern currently being implemented is still giving a lot of problems for farmers,” she added.

Meanwhile, Hotler “Zidane” Pasaoran, a palm oil labor specialist for Sawit Watch and also Coordinator of the Palm Oil Labor Coalition, said that the presidential instruction did not touch labor issues at all.

He said that the fundamental problem faced by labor such as work relations, freedom to organize, wages and health insurance is not at all mentioned in the presidential instruction. Zidane said that the Oil Palm Labor Coalition had actually already submitted a fact sheet on labor conditions in oil palm plantations which should have been used as one of the references for the government to deal with the problems in the oil palm plantation sector.

“We see that the government has failed in looking at who are the stakeholders in the palm oil industry. Oil Palm labor is one of the important actors and motors of this industry. The bad labor conditions in oil palm plantations in Indonesia should have received major attention from the government and efforts to remediate to this should have been contained in this presidential instruction,” Zidane said.

The presidential instruction which was signed by the president on November 22, 2019, was aimed at improving the capacity and capability of farmers, at finalizing the status and legality of land, to enhance diplomacy on sustainable palm oil and to accelerate the implementation of the Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) standard.

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