InfoSAWIT, JAKARTA - Indonesia is one of crude palm oil (CPO) producer and exporter in the world. Besides as the material to food sector, CPO is used to the material of renewable energy or famously known as biodiesel.
This is one influencing factor to the high demand of palm oil in the world. but in the international trade, the CPO consumers are sensitive to the negative issues or black campaign.
The most fascinating issue is that palm oil productions keep increasing in Indonesia and Malaysia and these are negative to the environment, such as, the area conversion from the tropical forests, the damage of animals, green-house gas effect, and climate change. These issues impact to the unstable CPO price in the world.
There are some kinds of palm oil negative campaign. The first is that in 1980s, palm oil was accused to have high cholesterol which is dangerous to the health of consumers. But it is denied by the research institutions of Malaysia.
The second is that the plantations in the peat are accused to make high carbon emission and damage the environment. Indonesia is accused as the crime of climate because Indonesia takes part to increase the carbon emission to the global warming. The third is the plantations damage the wild (animals). The fourth is the palm oil discriminatory. The fatty ingredients in CPO may be negative for men’s health. Though Malaysia has denied it, this keeps running.
One evidence of the negative campaigns is from European Union countries by publishing EU Labeling Regulation 1169/2011. It requires the label of specific source of vegetable oil for every food products in the continent. Besides, Indonesia is accused by European Union for the biodiesel and fatty alcohol.
Ministry of Trade, Indonesia questioned these to the government of European Union, such as, French or Italy. The two admitted that the labeling regulation is not published by the governments but by the private sectors.
How could these happen? The increasing palm oil that dominates the vegetable oil trade in the world makes some business sectors threatened. This triggered the competition of palm oil oil trade in Southeast Asia and soybean oil from Europe and United States of America.
The head to head business competition is unable to palm oil because palm oil is the most productive plantation and has the most economic cost to produce. It is assumed that the non-palm oil producers use the environmental issues and politic-economic policy to postpone the palm oil expansion.
The jealousy to palm oil development internationally needs deeper understanding by parsing the black campaigns. It is afraid that its development may not be sustainable.
By parsing the sustainable development, it would reveal that the root of issue is that palm oil trades get better than other kinds of vegetable oil trades. This is possible because palm oil is the most productive and efficient one of every kind of vegetable oil. It is only produced in subtropical countries. Knowing this, the issues developed are the sustainability to develop palm oil by making the production and trade barriers.
How to handle these?
The first thing to do is that Indonesia needs to be more proactive to promote sustainable palm oil. The procedure of in Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) should reflect the commitment of Indonesia to produce sustainable palm oil, maintain the conservation, and the function of environment based on what the people hope globally. The intense relationship among the governments should develop too.
The second is that it needs to reveal about the carbon emission issue, which means, the palm oil usages should be compared to other kinds of vegetable oil usages and the other superiority about palm oil.
These should be done to answer the palm oil issues to make the positive images of palm oil by comparing the supporting researches. It needs cooperation among the domestic boards and research institutions and from the neighborhood’s to answer the issues.
The third is to inform the characteristic of palm oil and other kinds of vegetable oil in the relationship with the health fairly to the consumers. The supports of available and credible researchers would predict the possibility of negative campaigns to the negative industries and prepare the answers based on the researches.
The researches would spend lots of money but the results from Indonesia and Malaysia, and the commitment of the two governments would support the costs to spend. The out fee from the CPO could be allocated to the researches.
The negative issues and discriminatory to palm oil industries may be thought as the efforts to postpone the superiority of land use and would reduce the export exchange and in the end, it would be the loss for palm oil industries in Indonesia. So it needs harder work to develop the positive images of palm oil industries in the world.
(Writer: Silmi Rahim/ Majoring Agribusiness, Faculty of Agriculture, 2015, Universitas Padjadjaran)