We Need One “Language” of Palm Oil

It is undeniable that oil palm is a strategic industry and concerns our national economic interests. In addition to its role in the domestic economy, palm oil is the largest foreign exchange earner at the moment. In 2017, the foreign exchange generated by palm oil reached USD 23 billion or around Rp. 310 trillion. In addition, the palm oil industry is linked to the food industry, the biofuel industry and the biomaterial industry which is very important. Therefore, as President Jokowi shows, we must all “guard up” the palm oil industry in international trade.

The negative campaign against our palm oil continues. The issue of deforestation, the loss of biodiversity including the threat of endangered species, continues to be blamed on our oil palm plantations. Indeed, the accusation is not entirely true. For biodiversity, for example, since the beginning Indonesia has provided protected forests and conservation forests in each province as “home” of biodiversity. Then the issue of deforestation, as in every country occurs, is still debatable. In fact, various studies also show that the development of oil palm plantations in Indonesia is not a direct conversion of natural forests to oil palm plantations, but utilizes degraded land or logging forests that are ex-forest concessions (logging). Even Western experts understand this. But why do many people both at locals and abroad do not believe or understand it?

One of them is because we are not yet using the same “language” related to our oil industry in relation to forest governance. We still have various languages ​​about palm oil. Most of the Ministries/agencies voiced that oil palm development in Indonesia is not deforestation, but some ministries still often say that oil palm plantations are the cause of our forest loss and even repeatedly say that some of the oil palm plantations are in forest conservation areas. Our own “language” is not the same, even contradicting each other, moreover the international community is “speaking” negatively towards our palm oil industry.

The difference of our “language” about oil palm, in fact, is also used by palm oil competitors and NGO networks to corner palm oil. The “language” difference about our oil palm, needs to end because it harms us as a nation. It is time for us, especially the Ministries/Institutions related to oil palm and forests to unite “languages”.

Palm oil industry (as well as other economic sectors) develops harmoniously with animals (biodiversity) in their respective “homes” on Indonesian land. Oil palm plantations and other economic sectors are developing in cultivation areas (according to the law), while biodiversity is in its “home” which is protected forest and conservation forest. Cultivation areas (including oil palm plantations) are developed for community economic activities, so as not to destroy the “home” of biodiversity. We develop oil palm plantations as an economic sector, which is part of the way we preserve the “home” of wild animals. If the economic sector does not develop, the community will start to exploit and destroy protection and conservation forests.

If the government is using one language, people will also follow it and gradually the world community will also follow it. The same use of the “language” of palm oil will subsequently be an important step for one map policy in Indonesia, to ensure sustainable national development.

We need to learn from Malaysia about this one “language” of oil palm. Malaysia is palm oil and palm oil is Malaysia. What the West accuses of Indonesian palm oil is also accused of Malaysian palm oil. But to face it, the Government and the people of Malaysia have one “language” about palm oil.

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