Kasdi Subagyono, director general of plantations at the Ministry of Agriculture, has urged palm oil companies to mainly focus on complying with the standards and criteria set out in the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) policy. (Reuters Photo/Samsul Said)

Plantations Director General Urges Palm Oil Companies to Prioritize ISPO Standards

MARCH 01, 2019

Jakarta. Kasdi Subagyono, director general of plantations at the Ministry of Agriculture, has urged palm oil companies to mainly focus on complying with the standards and criteria set out in the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil, or ISPO, policy.

He said other certifications should not be used as a main reference, especially as nongovernmental organizations pressurize palm oil companies to halt purchases of fresh fruit bunches from farmers.

"This also applies to plantations affiliated with their parent companies abroad. They don't need to follow the NDPE [no deforestation, no peat, no exploitation] policy, because it puts pressure on the supply chain and eventually farmers are the ones paying the price. Just follow the ISPO [guidelines]," Kasdi said after his speech at a national meeting of palm farmers in Jakarta on Thursday last week.

Kasdi was responding to questions from journalists on halted purchases of crude palm oil by suppliers NGOs deem to have failed in meeting the NDPE criteria, such as the Wilmar Group, which terminated its purchase agreement with Gama Plantation, and more recently Minamas Plantation, a subsidiary of Malaysia's Sime Darby, which halted crude palm oil purchases from the West Kalimantan-based Saraswanti Group.

Sime Darby said in a press release that the termination of its crude palm oil purchase agreement was due to mounting pressure from Foresthints, a Jakarta-based media company. Minamas and the Saraswanti Group have yet to comment.

"Indonesia has its own clear regulations regarding sustainable practices. Respect and follow the ISPO guidelines, because those are the regulations that matter in Indonesia," Kasdi said.

"In our ISPO [policy], we have a very clear commitment to help and push palm farmers and the industry to produce palm oil sustainably, which encompasses the NDPE. So, the industry does not need to be burdened by criteria that were not set by the government," he added.

Kasdi said the ISPO regulations and guidelines comply with global sustainability standards.

"In the future, we might even simplify the regulations, in accordance with suggestions by industry actors, including farmers," he said.

Meanwhile, referring to Minamas's termination of its purchase agreement with Saraswanti, Mukti Sardjono, executive director of the Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association (Gapki), said: "It's a shame the purchase agreement had to be halted. Especially since the crude palm oil supply that was cut, came from local plantations." 

Mukti believes palm oil producers in Indonesia have essentially followed the provided guidelines regarding sustainable palm plantation management.

SHARE