Smallholders’ Palm Oil Rejuvenation Program: Palm Oil “Replanting” And Management “Replanting”

Since 2017, the government (General Directorate of Plantation – Ministry of Agriculture and Board of Oil Palm Plantation Funds Management – Ministry of Finance) has started a program of smallholder’s oil palm rejuvenation. The smallholder’s oil palm replanting which was directly started by President Jokowi in Banyuasin (South Sumatra) was aimed to increase the productivity of smallholders’ palm oil which was indeed still low. Given that smallholder oil palm is 42 percent of the national oil palm plantation area, the success of increasing the productivity of smallholder oil palm will have a major impact on the sustainability of the national oil palm industry.

The Smallholders’ Oil Palm Rejuvenation Program (Program Peremajaan Sawit Rakyat in Bahasa Indonesia, PSR for short) this time turned out to be not an ordinary replanting that only replanted oil palm plants. More than that, the PSR program is an integrated and simultaneous “replanting”, namely: (1) replacing the smallholders’ palm oil business with superior seeds and the technical culture of modern oil palm cultivation, (2) “replanting” or revamping smallholders’ palm oil management (business legality, land legality and regional legality), (3) “replanting” smallholders’ palm oil human resource capabilities, especially technical and managerial cultural mastery, (4) “replanting” smallholders’ oil organizations and partnership institutions, namely farmer groups, cooperatives, community palm oil partnerships with palm oil mills and banking, and (5) “replanting” of community in oil palm plantation infrastructure for drainage equipment, plantation roads and transportation of fresh fruit bunches.

So PSR is not just a replanting of oil palm plants that are usually done by oil palm plantations. PSR is more appropriately called “replanting development”, the re-industrialization of smallholder oil palm plantations and building smallholder sustainable oil palm plantations.

This way of replanting that was adopted was carried out by the General Directorate of Forestry, which was very much needed by the smallholders’ oil palm. The oil palm plantations of the smallholders are dominated by oil palm that are independently developed on their own initiative and in the past have not had the chance to get sufficient guidance. Therefore, many smallholders’ plantations are planted with low quality seedlings, nonstandard technical culture, incomplete business legality and land, and minimal infrastructure and institutional support. The smallholder oil palm plantations, besides their low productivity, are also considered to be no longer in line with the demands of the world palm oil market which increasingly demands good and traceable management (traceability). Such management conditions are the reason why 99 percent of the smallholders’ palm oil has so far been unable to obtain sustainable certification (ISPO, RSPO).

This management condition of the smallholders’ oil palm plantations has encouraged the government to implement the replanting method. Improve all aspects of its management simultaneously and also integrate it with replanting oil palm plants at the same time. In time, this method will provide a new generation of palm oil-growing people who are more advanced, more competitive and sustainable.

The replanting method clearly requires time and has a lot of complexity because it involves many stakeholders. For business and land legality, it is necessary to coordinate locations involving at least 3 district agencies, namely agencies that handle plantations (legality of plantation business), land / spatial planning (land legality) and forestry (area legality). The three legalities are the basic legality of smallholder oil palm plantations which are needed both for sustainability certification and transacting well with other business entities as well as with modern financial institutions.

Various criticisms of the slow pace of PSR that sounded loud, thinking it is just the usual replanting, that is replanting oil palm trees. If PSR is only replanting oil palm plants, it may not be difficult and can be completed in one year. However, it turns out that PSR, which is being synergized by the General Directorate of Plantation and Board of Oil Palm Plantation Funds Management – Ministry of Finance as stated above, may have delay in its implementation. Of course, the PSR can be accelerated, with stakeholders’ maximum support.

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