2016-03-28

Chief Security Minister gives strong support to detailed study of IPOP



JAKARTA (foresthints.news) - The announcement by Indonesia's Minister of the Environment and Forestry, Siti Nurbaya, that her ministry is to undertake a detailed study of the Indonesian Palm Oil Pledge (IPOP) before the government makes any final decision with respect to it, is the right move according to the country’s Chief Security Minister, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan.

“Yes, I think the announcement by Ibu Siti is very good. We do have to make a detailed study of IPOP, because if you look at the situation now, the influence of the palm oil industry throughout Indonesia and on its people is immense,” Luhut told foresthints.news in a special interview held in his office on Thursday (Mar 24) in Jakarta.

The chief minister cited the huge role played by the palm oil industry in Indonesia, where it employs as many as 5.5 million people and generates around US$22 billion in annual state revenue.

“That's why we have to look at this (the role of the palm oil sector) very closely,” he stressed.

The chief minister pointed out that the Jokowi administration would like to see more plasma (local smallholders) and more people becoming part of the ownership of palm oil plantations.

“One of the major problems faced by the Indonesian government today is how to reduce the gap between ‘the haves and have-nots’. By prioritizing this program, we’ll give some more opportunities to the plasma, and thereby create more equilibrium in the palm oil industry,” he explained.

“So now, the policy of the goverment is very clear; we’d like to see sustainability but also growth at the same time,” he said.

The chief minister followed this assertion by explaining in some detail what kind of improvements the Indonesian government hopes to see in the performance of the plasma.

“Right now, if I’m not mistaken, 20% of palm oil ownership is held by plasma, and the productivity, or yield, from this 20% is only one point something ton per hectare,” he said.

He compared this with the productivity of big palm oil companies, which according to his estimation amounts to roughly 3-4 tons per hectare.

“So if we can improve the seeds of the palm fruit as well as the fertilizer used to make the land fertile, then I think we can also improve the yield from the plasma industry, maybe to as much as 3 to 4 tons per hectare. This is an issue the government is addressing,” the chief minister continued.

Luhut also elaborated on the objectives of the government’s biofuel program.

“We currently have a program in place to convert, gradually, up to 20% or more of palm oil into biofuel. The aim of this is to stabilize the price. Why do we have to stabilize the price? Because we want to protect the interests of our people,” he explained.

The chief minister was quick to emphasize that what he meant by the ‘people’ was not big business, but rather smallholders whose welfare is closely linked to the stability of the palm oil price.

“I’m not talking about big companies. I’m talking about the small ownership of the plantation. The goverment really wants to see its people enjoying prosperity from the yield of this industry,” he stressed.

He then ended the interview with foresthints.news by expressing once again his firm backing for Minister Siti Nurbaya’s move to perform an in-depth study of IPOP. “I’d like to pledge my strong support for Ibu Siti in her program to do a detailed study on the Indonesian Palm Oil Pledge.”