The Silent Sustainable Palm Oil

The Silent Sustainable Palm Oil

InfoSAWIT, JAKARTA - Suratno Warsito astonished when seeing groups of monkey in his plantation. In his mind he was confused.  The random areal enlargement has put the monkeys away from their home – the forest around Village of Merarai Satu, Sungai Tebelian, Sintang, West Kalimantan. The areas have become palm oil plantations reaching about 2,8 million hectares.

The threat keeps happening. The illegal logging in Borneo (Kalimantan, Malaysia, and Brunai) has left one fourth of the forest cover if it is let to happen again.

Suratno and the other independent smallholders joining the Rimba Harapan Union want to redeem the illegal logging by running sustainable palm oil. The man who is also the chairman of the union lets his three hectare area to be green again to make the canopy as the house for the animals, including the monkeys he just saw. This is the efforts of the bad accusation for palm oil industries for such a long time.

Endeavour from the World Life Heart

What Suratno does take some short time. In 1996, some years after he joined transmigration program, the palm oil plantation grew well in Kalimantan - the world life heart. The commodity is the option for the companies as the substitution of rubber which became the main one at the time.

In 2004, Suratno thought to enlarge his own plantation in Merarai Satu. One next year, the independent smallholders developed in District of Sintang.

No one thinks, in the beginning, Suratno had been cultivating sustainable palm oil practices. He did not enlarge the areas by burning it – it is the only way to increase the fire in the forest in Indonesia in the last ten years.

He just recently knew, what he did is the same to be categorized as the environmental concept after WWF Indonesia and Palm oil Facilitator (Fasda) introduced sustainable palm oil concept in 2013.  

Just like what he hopes, what WWF told is just the same as what Suratno did. He and the other smallholders group started to make Rimba Harapan Union – the first independent smallholders’ union, at least in Kalimantan within its vision is to realize the welfare of the members by enlarging sustainable and environmental palm oil. The smallholders innovated by making intercrops around their plantations where the ages have been four years old.

The plantations and the fruit harvest and make money to the palm oil which has not harvested yet.

The practice is the unseen successful one. It creates the sensitivity of environment in palm oil industry which is always accused to be the main factor of deforestation. The independent smallholders, slowly but sure, change the bad images in this industry. This proves, the main factor of deforestation is not the palm oil itself, but it is about how to produce palm oil.

RSPO Certificate and Sustainable Palm Oil

Suratno admired after he did study case in Ukui, Riau. He and his friends went back home to Sintang and made up his mine: imitating the Amanah Indipendent  Palm Oil Smallholders Association, the independent smallholders group producing sustainable palm oil and get the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certificate.

Association consists of the smallholders in Sub district of Ukui, Riau. It succeeded as the first independent smallholders in Indonesia and as the second association getting RSPO certification on July29th, 2013.

RSPO itself runs four major missions to transform the palm oil practices to be more sustainable. The first, RSPO supports the production, procurement, the utilization of sustainable products. The second, RSPO develops, implements, verifies, guarantees and reviews in the global standard which is trustable in every chain of stock of sustainable palm oil.  The third, RSPO monitors and evaluates the economy, environment, and social influences from the sustainable absorption (buying) in the markets. The fourth, RSPO involves every stakeholder in every chain of stock, including the government and the consumers themselves.

Knowing the mission, Amanah Association practices the principles and criteria in the social and environment to produce sustainable palm oil. For example, they start considering the high conservation value (HCV) areas when enlarging them.

This is done as the progress on the knowledge transfer about the advantages which will be got from protecting HCV to maintain the animal conservation and the plantation in the areas and maintain the ecosystem which make the positive things to the palm oil business.

Having the knowledge, the smallholders pay more attention to the river sides in or around their plantations. Amanah association has considered the environment factors when enlarging their areas. Enlarging areas is done in the areas for plantation only, not in the high conservation values or the animals’ path.  (Written by: Maharddhika/ This article is the second winner in writing contest “Sustainable Palm Oil, The Style of Wise Consumers” For more detail, log on to

Sumber: InfoSAWIT Edisi Februari 2016


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