Three Substantial Mainstays of Palm Oil: Gifts for Indonesia

Three Substantial Mainstays of Palm Oil: Gifts for Indonesia

Credit. Sawit Fest 2021/Domi Yanto, JAKARTA – Since morning, I tried to call my friends – members of groups in Jambi. Our palm oil production gets better and better because we prioritized the nursery. But then, my phone is ringing. “Assalamualaikum, hallo brother, how is everything? Doing fine? I hope so. “How much is it (fresh fruit bunch/FFB) today?”

Alhamdulillah. Everything’s good. It gets more expensive than last week. Besides the price, our production does too.”

We are so grateful. Planting palm oil could be the modal in our pension days as passive income – that’s the urban said. What we got also happens to other smallholders, planters, and palm oil company. Income flows to anyone who deals with palm oil both in physical and in bond. Of course, those who planted palm oil competitor in many other countries accused palm oil as factor of damage or broadcasted bad news. Perhaps, they are not willing to realize and accept that palm oil is more superior or because they cannot plant palm oil in their countries.

Of many researches, news in social media, and seeing in person, palm oil is the mainstay income for smallholders and help people’s economy in many developing countries, including in Indonesia at any time. Palm oil exports is one exchange that can be relied on in Covid-19 pandemic. Palm oil always becomes interesting topic to discuss. One side discussed about its mainstay in agronomy (upstream sector), while other social media discussed about the advantages as industrial materials (downstream sector).

Let us summarize palm oil substantial mainstay to explain, why palm oil becomes number one oil in the world that substitutes other kinds of vegetable oil, such as, soybean, sunflower, rapeseed oil.

In fact, palm oil has three substantial mainstays; the first, it has a very special characteristic; the second, it has efficient input; and the third, it is healthy and very useful.

Discussing the special characteristic in palm oil tree perhaps needs 10 sessions – zoom meeting, starts from its category as annual plantation, midrib position arrangement which is known as phyllotaxis in spiral shape, the same formation of tree compared to the production and fresh fruit bunch (FFB) process making.

In short, a planter will be very careful to start planting his palm oil for it will last for 25 years or even more. In many places, planters are reluctant to do replanting because his 27 year - old trees still produce up to 30 tons. Once in 25 years implicates that buying seed is once, planting is once, processing soil in one cycle, waiting for production is also once when the plantation is not productive yet. But after that, the trees produce on and on. It is different from other seasonal plantations, such as, corn and soybean. They start from cultivating land, planting, harvesting, and next season, it needs to repeat again (cultivating land, planting, harvesting) again and again.

Why does land cultivation have issue? According to some researchers, the priority is about zero tillage or minimum tillage (1,2,3) in seasonal plantations. Besides, land cultivation could mean to fire up the same energy, which is the same meaning to spend money. The other connotation is, land cultivation will open organic materials to get access exposed to the air and make continuous decomposition. CO2 will be free up to the sky. Discussing about palm oil without mentioning sources of organic materials is not complete.

The opinion saying that palm oil is self-sustainably sample in organic material fulfillment needs attention too. We are acknowledged that organic material in the soil will be decreasing because of natural decomposition (4,5) that makes the soil less fertile or less unhealthy. On the other hand, palm oil trees produce midrib from the budding process and roots grow and replace. The trees produce FFB too, if every organic material is returned to the soil, they will be more 0,36% in every year - big numbers.

Why are palm oil trees in the same formation compared to the production?...

By: Witjaksana Darmosarkoro

First Place of Sawit Fest Award 2021

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