Debate Arises Over Palm Oil Plantations in Java Amid National Food Production Priorities

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Illustration of Palm oil plantation. Photo by: Palmoilmagazine.com

PALMOILMAGAZINE, JAKARTA – Although Java is not the main area for oil palm cultivation in Indonesia, areas such as West Java, Banten and East Java have experienced significant development in terms of oil palm plantations.

Given that Java is meant to be the center of national food production, questions arise regarding the advantages of growing oil palm on the island compared to other food crops.

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Gusti Ketut Astawa, Deputy I for Food Stability and Availability at the National Food Agency, emphasized that Java plays a central role in national food production, contributing around 60% of the total national food production.

Also Read: SRP in Banten Province to Increase Production and Future Optimism

“Java is the central food nationally. National Food Agency would try to control the price from upstream to downstream by confirming food supply (well). Palm oil is not the main commodity (to be developed) because palm oil in this country has enough supply and even it is exported,” Astawa said, as in the official statement to Palmoilmagazine.com, Sunday (19/5/2024).

He told that when he became a speaker in a book discussion and launch “Gula-gula Sawit di Pulau Jawa (Harapan Manis Berbuah Tangis?)” that was initiated by Sawit Watch on Thursday, 16 May 2024. It was broadcasted virtually through zoom and youtube.

The Executive Director of Sawit Watch, Achmad Surambo, said that even though plantation conversion in Java would be a new phenomenon, this should not be a trend. “It is a new phenomenon that many regions have been planted by palm oil. Palm oil itself is not the superior commodity in Java. It is better to develop other food commodities and forest regions, get a social forestry permit and do agro-forestry. Conduct tanah objek reforma agrarian (TORA) for the unavailable former business permits,” he said.

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Arief Rahman from Pusat Pengkajian Perencanaan dan Pengembangan Wilayah (P4W) Institut Pertanian Bogor (IPB) University said that palm oil plantations in Java are narrow, only about 0,21% of total palm oil plantations nationally.

“Palm oil is not the theme. Even if agricultural sectors can be categorized, food agriculture would be. Java should not be the island to develop palm oil, and smallholders would not get support from the government. Palm oil is not the main commodity in Java, both in policy and potential,” Arief said.

Within an area with and environmental supports that are close to the limit, and food crisis that happens in the globe, substituting areas in Java to develop palm oil would raise questions. It needs to review more to confirm if it woulddeliver morer profits than developing other food commodities that would be more adjustable with the characteristics and needs in Java. (T2)

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