29 Juni 2013

Indonesia's Palm Oil Policy



Indonesia has great plans for selling its palm oil products to the West as being sustainably produced and while I must admit the recent announcements including the earth-shaking recognition of indigenous land rights as great steps in that direction, I have to question the lack of control on the ground.

One can have the best policies and standards on paper but if they cannot be enforced on the ground, then those policies are only worth the paper they're printed on.

When the fires in Sumatra first broke out, I knew that some scapegoats would be hauled up and blamed and that indeed has happened.
Even if it is true that small holders lack the equipment to clear forests and that burning is the option preferred by them, it shows that the Indonesian palm oil policy has a long way to go before being sustainable in the true sense of the word.

Any sustainable product must benefit the masses and in Indonesia's case, top priority should be given to the small holders and those who work in plantations.

I question the reports of "poor jungle dwelling peoples benefitting" from palm oil agri-business when they're making US$5 per day.
Will the $5 a day really improve the quality of their lives when compared to simply living off the land?

The reports I do see tend to be those from communities that lament their decisions to support industrial palm oil plantations.
So, a friendly suggestion to the policy makers in Indonesia; before you market the product as sustainable and much-needed to improve the livelihoods of the common people, show us who these people are.

ROBERT HILL TORONTO,
CANADA

Surat pembaca diambil dari Jakarta Post tanggal 29 Juni 2013.