The Palm Scribe

Smallholders ISPO certification would still require land legality

Although the Indonesian government is aggressively accelerating Indonesian Sustainability Palm Oil (ISPO) certification of feasibility for companies and smallholders, land legality requirements, often blamed of hampering the process, cannot be eliminated, according to an Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) commissioner.


ISPO Commission Secretariat Head Azis Hidayat said that legislation demands on land legality requirements made it difficult for independent palm oil smallholders to get into the ISPO sustainability scheme.

“ISPO’s main objective is to encourage plantation business players, both companies, and independent farmers, to comply with existing regulations and legislation,” Hidayat told The Palm Scribe during ISPO International Conference and Exhibition 2018 on Wednesday, April 11, 2018.

Hidayat added that in fact, ISPO has been trying to alleviate certification requirements for independent farmers. They only need to meet four requirements to obtain ISPO certification, while plasma farmers must meet six and companies must meet seven principles of ISPO.

“The hardest (requirement) is the land legality,” said Hidayat. In this case, legality aspect, according to the Agrarian Law, is Surat Hak Milik (land ownership by hereditary rights) and Girik (not a proof of ownership over a land, but merely proof that the owner of land controls the customary land and as taxpayers on such plots of land).

He also stressed that in order to be sustainable, the land legality requirement must be met.

According to Hidayat, farmers should take advantage of the Land Objects for Agrarian Reform (TORA) program that can provide legal certainty over land tenure by communities within forest areas and resolve disputes and conflicts within forest areas. “TORA program is such a good opportunity to get the certificate,” he said.

Various efforts have been made to make it easier for farmers to obtain legal status for their land. “It takes time and effort to be orderly. If the farmers have worked so hard to cultivate oil palm for years, the National Land Agency should provide some kind of land certificates to recognize their hard work,” said Hidayat.

He also revealed that certification processing does not necessarily have to be for the entire concession, it can actually be done gradually, by excluding part of the land that is still in dispute.

Some people question why the government does not make this certification a public service by providing relief or subsidies if it wants to attract as many independent farmers as possible into this sustainable certification system.

Hidayat pointed out the need to highlight the partnerships between large companies and successful plantation business players to help farmers. “There have been many examples of successful partnerships helping independent farmers gain legality of their lands.”

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