Jakarta (ANTARA) - Finance Minister Sri Mulyani emphasized that the downstreaming of palm oil is important to boost the added value of exports since palm oil is one of Indonesia's main export commodities.

"The more we increase palm oil downstreaming, the greater will be the added value. It will certainly bring more foreign exchange that can be used for the welfare of our country," Mulyani stated at the 17th Indonesian Palm Oil Conference and 2022 Price Outlook in here on Wednesday.

The minister later noted that palm oil commodities had vast potential as industrial raw materials to be processed to create industrial products. However, the downstreaming of Indonesian palm oil products has not yet been developed.

Hence, President Joko Widodo had urged the government to focus on this sector by developing the added value of palm oil products through downstreaming.

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In addition to boosting state revenues, the minister emphasized the importance of improving the welfare of palm oil farmers and other actors in the palm oil plantation sector.

"Palm has played an important role not only for the economy but also for the welfare of society," she stated.

Mulyani remarked that the number of workers directly involved in the plantation sector as farmers reached 4.2 million. Meanwhile, as many as 12 million workers are involved indirectly in palm oil production.

On the same occasion, Mulyani urged the Palm Oil Plantation Fund Management Agency (BPDPKS) to encourage boosting the productivity of these independent palm oil farmers.

This is since most of the palm oil plantations are owned by independent smallholders with limited lands and lower productivity as compared to large private palm oil companies.

"It is the task of the BPDPKS to help independent farmers in terms of replanting and boosting palm oil productivity per hectare. We hope to be able to boost the welfare of palm oil farmers through this program," she affirmed.

The minister noted that this sector's foreign exchange contribution reached US$21.4 billion, or over 14 percent of the total foreign exchange earnings for non-oil exports. Indonesia is also using palm oil to lower dependence on oil imports through the biodiesel program.

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Translator: M Baqir I A, Resinta S
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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