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‘Indonesia risks palm oil exports if cultivation unsustainable’

The snail-like pace at which Indonesia is improving the sustainability of its palm oil agriculture in the face of mounting pressure from global trade players could jeopardise the commodity’s future, experts have warned.

Among the critics of Indonesia’s palm oil agriculture management is Bogor Agricultural University (Institut Pertanian Bogor, IPB) forestry expert and Centre for International Forestry Research (Cifor) senior scientist Herry Purnomo, who said at a public discussion last week that concerns about the sustainability of the commodity had now stretched beyond the EU, with similar concerns being expressed in North America and Australia.

Echoing Herry’s warning, climate change and environment counsellor of the EU delegation to Indonesia Michael Bucki urged Indonesia to take action to curb deforestation caused by palm oil cultivation, which he said would impact “future generations, everyone, not only people of the EU”.

“What the EU people want is sustainable palm oil. So it’s a supply and demand [matter]. If there are sustainable palm oil products from Indonesia, we [EU] have the market. And the EU has an open market,” he said during the forum held by Cifor.

The bloc, he added, would prepare a review on biofuel between 2021 and 2023, with more dialogue to take place between the EU and the Indonesian government about sustainability in the meantime.

The Cifor discussion was held amid the prolonged feud between the two trading partners over the commodity, with Indonesia committed to fighting the EU’s ban on the use of palm oil for biodiesel, in addition to tariffs imposed on subsidised palm oil imports from Indonesia.
Read more on The Phnom Penh Post