In an effort to support palm oil, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan spoke at a conference at Urbaniana University in Vatican City on Tuesday, May 15, stressing the importance of the palm oil industry for Indonesia as it directly involves the lives of more than 15 million people.

Panjaitan also emphasized that oil palm has become an important commodity in the world. His statement is in regard to the EU’s plan to eliminate palm oil from its renewable energy program by 2020.

“There are millions of people who will be affected by their decisions. Not only Indonesia, but also Malaysia, Nigeria, Ghana and Latin America will also be hit,” he said, adding that Indonesia needs to regularly lobby the European Union to avoid the ban.

According to him, it was in the conference entitled “Eradicating Poverty Through Agriculture and Plantation Industry to Empower Peace and Humanity” that developing countries had the opportunity to voice their opinions related to the palm oil industry.

Panjaitan himself had spoken to the EU delegation when they visited Indonesia and affirmed Indonesia’s strong position in the palm oil industry. “We are not begging you, because our country is bigger than yours. We will be the world’s fourth largest economy by 2045-2050,” he said.

The conference in Vatican City conveyed the need for all decision makers in the palm oil industry to promote sustainable development cooperation based on Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) in order to prevent discrimination moving forward.

Meanwhile, Rosediana Suharto, one of Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) founders and Responsible Palm Oil Initiatives (RPOI) director, argued that in order to support palm oil industry, Indonesia needed to work harder to keep up with the SDG standards.

“If we look at the result of the conference, we can see that it refers to SDG-based development, Well, Indonesia is still having a hard time doing it as there is so much homework that needs to be done,” she said when contacted by The Palm Scribe.

Suharto also emphasized that the Government should strengthen its role in supervising in the field to improve the development so that Indonesia can achieve the SDG objectives.

Oil Palm Farmers Association (SPKS) Communications Department Head Marselinus Andry admitted that the current Government’s role has been very helpful in voicing the concerns of farmers against the European palm oil import ban policy.

At the same time, he also asked the Government to keep paying attention to local farmers, as international palm diplomacy would not affect anything as long as there are still many obstacles faced by local farmers related to the palm oil industry development.

“The Indonesian Oil Palm Estate Fund (BPDPKS) funds are expected to support palm oil more in the field in regards to sustainable practices, and this will make way for the government to promote the good practices. Now there are tens of trillions rupiahs but there is nothing to promote,” he told The Palm Scribe, adding that there are still many conflicts between farmers and companies.

Indonesia is the world’s largest palm oil producer and consumer. Oil palm plantations in Indonesia have now exceeded 12 million hectares and almost half are plantations owned or managed by independent smallholders.

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