Indonesia government officials have been holding talks with multinational companies and farming associations to discuss issues surrounding palm oil production.
Indonesia’s Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Forestry and Environment gathered 100 technical experts at the Indonesian Palm Oil Platform (InPOP) last week to discuss ways to increase smallholder palm oil productivity and eliminate deforestation from the country’s palm oil supply chain.
Indonesia aims to almost double palm oil production by 2020 in response to global demand for the substance, which is widely used in cosmetics, household products and food. Yet while palm oil production is a cornerstone of Indonesia’s economy, it is also the main cause of deforestation and increased greenhouse gas emissions
Gamal Nasir, Director General of Estate Crops at the Agriculture Ministry, commented, “As the world’s top palm oil producer, it is in Indonesia’s best interest to remain competitive. To do this, we must anticipate the latest industry trends. Today, this means implementing practices that are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals and climate change mitigation. “
The two-day talks focused on smallholder capacity building, environmental management and monitoring, governance and the mediation of disputes.
In Indonesia, smallholders produce 40 percent of the country’s palm oil and the challenges they face to implement responsible farming practices while improving their livelihoods have been widely acknowledged.
“Smallholders understand the need for sustainability and improved traceability in the sector,” said Saut Benny Sinaga, of the Oil Palm Smallholders Union (SPKS) which represents some 20,000 smallholders in Sumatra and Kalimantan, key palm oil-producing areas. “We need distribution channels for seeds and fertilizers, capacity building, and access to working capital if we are to make the switch to responsible farming,” said Mr Sinaga, whose family has been working in the sector for over 30 years.
The InPOP talks will help Indonesia follow through with its endorsement of the 2014 New York Declaration on Forests that commits global leaders to reduce natural forest loss in half by 2020, and to strive to end deforestation by 2030.