Until recently, the potential benefits of oil palm industry that have been utilized are still few and far between. Supply chain management from upstream to downstream is also still partial, they are operating independently and not optimal. The productivity of oil palm plantation is still far under its potential. Our palm oil downstream industry is still in early stage or limited. There are still many processes involved that are inefficient, idle, and producing waste or pollutants into the environment. The use of byproducts which are actually of economic value, in general has not been carried out at maximum.
In other words, the management and technology system applied in our palm oil industry so far is still partial and limited in term of capacity, in managing all the factors that vitalize maximum performance. Therefore, the production, profits, as well as economic and social benefits gained are only sub-optimal and even harmful to the environment by producing waste and pollution.
For example, on the level of oil palm plantation, the potential productivity of the varieties planted so far has ranged from 8-12 tons of oil per hectare (PPKS, 2017). Meanwhile the realization of national productivity of oil palm plantations is still 50 percent of this potential. The productivity of oil palm plantations owned by smallholders is even further down in number.
This low realization of productivity shows that the existing management system and technology are still limited to be able to manage all the factors that affect productivity. Even most of agricultural science students who are still in their first semester already understand that productivity (P) is contributed by genetic ability (G), environmental conditions (E), and the interaction between both genetic and environment (GE). These variables E and GE are not fully manage yet by the management system in our oil palm plantations and thus the productivity achieved is still far from what it should be.
In reality, this condition can be easily observed especially in the plantation areas where the farming records are maintained properly. For the same variety of crop grown at the same time in different garden blocks, even with the dosage of fertilizer that is according to the recommendations and is maintained with standard cultural technic, they still have fresh fruit bunches productivity below standard and varieties. How can it be? The answer is because there are still many other factors involved in fresh fruit bunches productivity that we have yet to manage accordingly to maximize the growth and production of palm oil plantation.
Aside from genetic/variety factor, many factors affect fresh fruit bunches productivity. On the level of nutrient absorption by plant roots for example, variations in dozens of chemical, physical, biological factors in soil affect nutrient availability and absorption by plant roots. In the process of growth and production of oil palm, dozens of eco-physiological factors that influence it are namely climate factors temperature, sunlight intensity, length of irradiation, inertia, and others. Similarly in the process of harvesting, transporting and processing in palm oil mills, there are also many factors that have not been managed successfully.
Most of these factors have not been optimally managed according to the needs of oil palm plants. As a result, maximum productivity has not been achieved yet, and even in the use of input such as fertilizer, it tends to be excessive. Various studies reveal that around 60-70 percent of the nitrogen fertilizer we use is not entirely absorbed by the plants and is wasted, polluting the environment in the form of methane and nitrogen oxide emissions.
Similar conditions, more or less, also occur in almost every aspect of the supply chain starting from downstream, transportation, trade, and up to the consumer level. Many factors still cannot be managed by the limited management system so that the benefits gained are still far from what it should be and even become unnecessary financial burden.
Palm oil industry 4.0 presents solution that is to manage all variables simultaneously on all aspects of the entire supply chain in the palm oil industry from upstream to downstream so that production, profits, as well as social and economic benefits are maximized with minimum environmental waste or pollution. Palm oil industry 4.0 is a production methodology that is new, more comprehensive, effective and sustainable for each palm oil supply chain from upstream to downstream.
Palm Oil Industry 4.0 is based on the use of science and technology (innovation-driven) by integrating major components namely Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Human-Machine Interaction, Digital-Physical and biotechnology to increase productivity, efficiency, added value , inclusiveness and to minimize pollution or emissions in a sustainable manner. In other words, palm oil industry 4.0 is also a new production method that can bring us to achieve sustainable development goals in palm oil industry.
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