Monday, 25 May 2020 | 09:25 WIB

Letter From APKASINDO to European Council

Palm oil

JAKARTA, NNC - In light of some concerns expressed by the European Parliament, one of which include proposal to terminate the use of palm oil in biofuel in 2121, APKASINDO has written a letter to the President to the European Commission addressing what APKASINDO deems as a misconception by the Parliament. Below is the letter issued from APKASINDO.

Dear Mr. Jean-Claude Juneker

President of the European Commission

Dear Mr. Donald Tusk

President of the European Council

On behalf of four million families of palm oil small holder members of APKASINDO, I wish to express concern regarding a number of proposals in the European Parliament to include calling for terminating the use of palm oil in biofuel in 2021.

APKASINDO is the largest farming Association in lndonesia with branches in 21 provinces lndonesia, four million members, and land coverage close to five million hectares. ln terms of benefit to farming communities in lndonesia, there is no doubt that palm oil contributes significantly to the lives of these millions of farmers and their families, especially by lifting them out of poverty.

I understand that those voices calling for an early ban of palm oil in the European Parliament are concerned regarding issue of sustainability and deforestation. APKASINDO can understand these concerns and we undertake all efforts to ensure that the social and economic progress of our Members is not at the expense of the environment. ln this respect we have extensive training programs on good agricultural practices in 18 different provinces focusing on improving productivity on existing lands to avoid further expansion. ln fact small holder improvements in productivity will be enough to alleviate any further pressure that may exist to meet future global demand by converting new lands to palm oil.

Productivity improvements are also being realized through an extensive program of replanting which is spearheaded by the President of lndonesia Jokowi Widodo with APKASINDO acting as facilitator through our extensive network. The productivity gains from the use of new generation palm oil plants are very significant from

increasing for smallholders from two or three to 6 MT of oil per hectare. Our combined goal is to balance out social and economic progress in harmony with the environment according to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of the United Nations. Bearing this is mind, the Association is addressing a number of issues to accelerate the replanting program, such as facilitating bank financing and land ownerships.

At the social level, we try to improve market mechanisms by providing daily price of fresh fruit bunches and in terms of social improvements, amongst others, we provide scholarship for small holder's children up to the bachelor degree level. Taken together, we believe APKASINDO advances the SDG for the benefit of lndonesia and also the global community.

To the extent that the voices against palm oil are genuinely concerned by the environment I would suggest that they may wish to be better informed on the efforts that are underway. At the global level, it is also important to appreciate that the sheer productivity of palm oil will help meet future demand while conserving the "global land banks". lt is not rapeseed with a productivity level of 600 kg per MT or soya at 900 kg per MT that can meet future demand for vegetable oils while alleviating pressure on the global land bank. ln the case of rapeseed, I have been informed that the consequences on the environment are not negligible, with nitrates seeping into the watertable and substantial negative effects on the flora and fauna.

Seen from the perspective of APKASINDO, there is no justification for proposing to impose a premature ban on palm oil. Such a ban would not only be discriminatory within the context of vegetable oils in general, but it would not contribute in any way to the efforts underway to ensure SDGs in lndonesia. On the other hand, if the purpose is to protect rapeseed cultivation in Europe, then it is understandable that those voices in the EP are not better informed.

Yours Sincerely,

Asmar Arsjad

Secretary General