Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan made the remarks in international conference with theme of “Eradicating Poverty through Agriculture and Plantation Industry to Empower Peace and Humanity” at Pontificial Urban University, Rome, Italy, Tuesday (5/15/2018).
Those who performed as the speakers in the conference were Perfect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development Vatican Cardinal Peter Turkson, Malaysian Ambassador in Vatican Tan Sri Bernard Giluk Dompok, Chairman of European Palm Oil Alliance (EPOA) Frans Claassen, Pietre Paganini from John Cabot University, and James Fry from LMC International Oxford.
The owners of small-scale plantation, continued Luhut, reach 41 percent of land owners with land area of 4.6 million hectares. Direct workers absorbed in palm oil plantation reaches 5.5 million people and indirect workers reach 12 million people. Therefore, Indonesian Government has an interest in guarding plantation and palm oil industry to overcome the poverty rates in accordance to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of United Nations in 2030.
Cardinal Peter said, human activities in economic development such as agriculture are a challenge to environmental issues. Hence, it is necessary to balance between human activities and environmental issues.
Frans Claassen added that the purpose of EPOA establishment is to provide balanced and objective view from various aspects. Palm oil is produced by 40 percent of small-scale plantation owners. In Indonesia and Malaysia, it is estimated that there are 3 – 3.5 million of small-scale plantation owners.
According to Frans, palm oil industry both in Indonesia and Malaysia are committed to manage plantation and the industry sustainably. Indonesia, for example, has been implementing the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) standard.
Therefore, Frans considered the effort to boycott palm oil products is not a solution. The development of sustainable palm oil plantation and industry is a solution because palm oil industry supports SDGs, such as the effort to overcome poverty rate and build communities and rural areas.
The Chairman of Indonesian Palm Oil Association (Gapki), Joko Supriyono said, of the export volume of palm oil and its derivatives to European countries around 5 million tons in 2017, the contribution of export to Italy was 23 percent or the third largest after the Netherlands (36 percent) and Spain (29 percent).
The data shows that the total production of Indonesian palm oil in 2017 was 42.04 million tons with a total export of 31.05 million tons worth 22.97 billion US dollars. The palm oil production in 2016 was 35.57 million tons with a total export of 25.11 million tons worth 18.22 billion US dollars. Of the total export of 42 million tons, the largest export was to India with 7.62 million tons, Europe with 5.02 million tons, China with 3.71 million tons, Africa with 2.87 million tons, Pakistan with 2.21 million tons, Middle East with 2.21 million tons, Bangladesh with 1.25 million tons, and the United States with 1.18 million tons.
“Palm oil industry is committed in managing plantation and the industry sustainably.”