House calls for special law on oil palm

House calls for special law on oil palm

Illustration: Farmers stack fresh palm fruit bunches on people's oil palm plantations in Drien Leukiet Village, Kuala Batee, Aceh Barat Daya District, Aceh (ANTARA PHOTO / Suprian/Bambang Purwanto)

This law is needed because the palm oil industry has proven to be a pillar of the national economy.
Jakarta (ANTARA) - A member of the House of Representatives' Commission on Economic Affairs, Firman Subagyo, said that oil palm has been designated as a national strategic commodity so it must be protected through a special law.

He believes, if Indonesia already has a special law that regulates and protects oil palm, it is difficult for such certain parties as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to carry out black campaigns on national plantation products.

"This law is needed because the palm oil industry has proven to be a pillar of the national economy," he said through written information in Jakarta on Sunday.

The Golkar Party politician stated that there were presumably a number of parties trying hard to prevent or even want to foil the discussion of the bill on oil palm at the House.

According to him, Europe always and will continue to hamper the development of the Indonesian palm oil industry, because it wants to protect its agricultural commodities.

Moreover, Europe is a producer of sunflower and rapeseed as raw materials for vegetable oils, both of which are palm oil competitors, he said.

But both of these agricultural commodities have far less productivity than oil palm, he added, where Oil World data says sunflower productivity is only 0.48 tons per hectare (ha) and rapeseed is around 0.67 tons per ha while oil palm is on average 3.74 tons per ha.

Because of its more productivity, palm oil-based vegetable oil can be sold on the world market at a much cheaper price compared to other vegetable oils, Firman said.

According to him, based on this fact, Europe will continue to make various ways to inhibit or even shut down the oil palm industry because it is unable to compete.

"So this bill continues to be hampered so that it cannot be promulgated so that they (NGOs) can play in the gray area. If the government is carried away, they will not be finished at any time," said Firman.

Meanwhile, General Chairman of the Sustainable Strategic Plantation Development Forum (FP2SB) Achmad Mangga Barani said that all components of the nation must understand that oil palm is a strategic commodity.

If it is stated to be strategic and important for the country from an economic standpoint, he added, all regulations or legal instruments that are hampering must be corrected.

"So far, in terms of regulations, there are many obstacles, there are many rules that hinder the palm oil industry. But on the other hand, he is declared a strategic commodity. So there is a need for a special law regulating oil palm," he said.

The former Director General of Plantation explained that at this time there was indeed Law No. 39 of 2014 concerning Plantation, but could not solve the problem in the oil palm industry.

The Plantation Law applies to all plantation commodities and only regulates on-farm or upstream only, does not regulate downstream. Though the problem in oil palm does not only occur on farm, but also in the downstream because this oil palm has become an industry.

Therefore, according to the former Director General of Plantation, currently there is a need for a special law on the palm oil industry that regulates from upstream or on farm to downstream or from its farm. In addition, the law must be lex specialist.

"I strongly agree that the existence of the bil on oil palm will be discussed and hopefully it will be promulgated soon," he said.

Previously, East Kalimantan Governor Isran Noor said the existence of oil palm plantations in the regions he led had a positive contribution to improving the economy and employment.

Even oil palm is a sector that is relied on to replace the role of coal and oil and gas mining.