Oil palm, a multipurpose crop, is in many ways emblematic of key economic, social and environmental challenges and opportunities. The rapid growth of palm oil demand worldwide, and the rapid expansion of oil palm plantations in the tropics, including in Indonesia, has put the crop at the center of controversies (Rival and Levang, 2014).
Palm oil has many uses, from food and energy to several other industrial uses. Palm oil can be used for cooking, and in making margarine, detergents and cosmetics. Since the last decade, palm oil has also been used as a key feedstock for biofuels in some countries as they try to diversify their energy supply (Soh et al. 2003; Murphy 2007; Ngando-Ebongue et al. 2012). Thus, the increased global demand for food, energy and other industrial uses products triggers an increased demand for palm oil.
For Indonesia, oil palm contributes significantly to the national development. In 2017, its export value reached USD 23 billion (Reily and Ekarina 2018; Tim Riset PASPI 2018). Oil palm also contributed 17% of the agricultural gross domestic product (GDP) in 2014 (MoA 2015). In addition, according to the 2013 agricultural census, about 2 million smallholders cultivate oil palm (BPS 2013).
Along with associated industries, the Palm Oil Business Association claimed to have employed up to 7.8 million laborers across the palm oil value chains (Tim Riset PASPI 2017).
The Government of Indonesia has put in place several production and productivity targets for oil palm. In the early 2010s, the Government of Indonesia set a production target of 40 million tons of crude palm oil (CPO) by 2020. For the same timeframe, the government has also set the productivity targets, known as 35:26 vision, which means to produce 35 tons per hectare (ha) of fresh fruit bunches (FFBs) with a 26% oil extraction rate (MoA 2013). To meet this target, the government introduced several incentives to facilitate the private sector in accessing and expanding plantations and bringing smallholders to the table by formulating various partnership schemes with companies. One notable program is the plan to allocate 9 million ha of land for agriculture development. Of a total 68.98 million ha of production forests, 12.94 million ha of convertible production forests are allocated for non-forestry use (MoEF 2016). The government also plans to conduct agrarian reform on 9 million ha of land for smallholder use, including oil palm (Setkab 2015).
However, there are concerns that rapid oil palm development and expansion have brought about undesirable ecological impacts. Expansion has been associated with clearing natural forests to make room for oil palm (Setiawan et al. 2016; Vijay et al. 2016; Austin et al. 2017). Specifically expansion of oil palm on peatland leads to a significant amount of greenhouse gas emission (Miettinen et al. 2012) and is also linked to biodiversity loss (Koh and Wilcove 2009; Lees et al. 2015; Linder and Palkovitz 2016). There are also negative social impacts of palm oil, for example, through land dispossession and poor working conditions for plantation laborers (Dhiaulhaq et al. 2015; Gellert 2015). The links between palm oil development, deforestation and the involvement of actors at diﬀerent levels in Kalimantan have been well described (Susanti and Maryudi 2016; Prabowo et al. 2017).
The objectives of the policy dialogue are to: (a) share perspectives from the government, private sector and civil society on current developments within the palm oil sector; (b) communicate latest research results on oil palm, landscapes and sustainability by Indonesian partners (e.g. FOERDIA – Ministry of Environment and Forestry, IPB University and University of Indonesia), CIFOR and its partners under the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, and (c) identify ways forward for sustainable palm oil in Indonesia that reconciles palm oil development and forest conservation;.
Date and venue
The policy dialogue will be held on Thursday, 26 September 2019 at Hotel JS Luwansa, H.R. Rasuna Said Kav. C-22, Jakarta Selatan, from 08.30 to 15.30 WIB.
The dialogue will be moderated by Prita Laura.
Phone: 0812 827 9850