Get Certified, Indonesia Tells Malaysian Planters

MEDAN: Malaysian oil palm planters in Indonesia

will need to be separately certified under Indonesia Sustainable Palm

Oil (ISPO), regardless of whether they have already been certified by

the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).


In an interview with Business Times here recently, Indonesia’s

Agriculture Ministry director of estate crop Bapak Rimansyah said

RSPO-certified estates do not automatically qualify for ISPO.

“It’s not automatic but it (RSPO-certified firms) will be easier compared to those who are not certified at all,” he said.

Rimansyah said the ISPO’s principles and criteria are not the same as RSPO.

“First things first, the RSPO is voluntary whereas the ISPO is

mandatory. Secondly, the ISPO is actually a reflection of a unified code

of laws concerning best practices throughout the supply chain from oil

palm planting to palm oil processing,” he explained.

ISPO certification means compliance to all existing laws of four

ministries namely Ministry of Agriculture, State Ministry for the

Environment, the Ministry of Forestry and the National Land Agency.

“The ISPO is meant to streamline the enforcement channels of various government agencies,” he said.

Rimansyah explained that the ISPO is in line with the rules of the

World Trade Organisation (WTO). It is designed to get a market guarantee

through the mechanism of the WTO and other multilateral or bilateral

agreements with buyers.

The RSPO, set up in 2004, was initially

hailed as a forum where stakeholders of diverse interests are considered

as equal partners.

Somehow, over the years, the roundtable

concept of equal duties and rights became lopsided. The RSPO has tipped

in favour of environmental and animal rights activists as their

expertise in communicating to the public and credibility assertion is

being carried out at the expense of palm oil producers.

According to www.ispo-org.or.id, the Indonesian government seeks to

restore balance of social and economic dimensions of oil palm

cultivation to be on par with environmental conservation.

“Only

when the three dimensions of sustainability are proportionately

accounted for and treated equally, then the generally accepted

definition of sustainable oil palm planting can be achieved,” he said.

If there are breaches of the laws, Rimansyah said, the violators will not be eligible to the ISPO certification.

Citing an example of ISPO working within a legal framework, he said if

an oil palm company is proven to be guilty of slash and open burning in

the court, it will not be entitled to apply for ISPO certification.

On the estimated cost of ISPO certification, he said: “We’re not

charging the oil palm planters anything but the auditors will charge

their fees.

“Although we have yet to finalise the list of

auditors and their fee scale, the government does not want oil palm

planters to be unnecessarily burdened. We’re proposing to the auditors

that there be a ceiling fee.”

He added that the ISPO auditors will have to work closely with the National Accreditation Body of Indonesia.

The Decree of the Minister of Agriculture No. 7/2009 classifies all oil palm planters into Grade I, II, III, IV and V.

Rimansyah said oil palm planters have three years to make adjustments

to the ISPO criteria. If companies need advocacy to meet the

requirements, assistance will be provided for six months to two years.

This year, Rimansyah said, 20 oil palm plantations are undergoing a

trial to pursue the ISPO certification. The participants include PT Rea

Kaltim Plan PT Ivomas Tunggal, PT Sime Indo Agro, PT Sumber Indah

Perkasa PT Gunung Sejahtera and state companies such as PT Perkebunan

Nusantara PTPN III, V, VI and XIII.

Association of Plantation

Investors of Malaysia in Indonesia (Apimi) executive secretary Nor

Hazlan Abdul Mutalib, who was also present at the interview, said his

members fully support the ISPO certification.

“Among the 20

companies, two are our members. In fact, all of our members are for

sustainable agricultural and manufacturing practices as required by

Indonesian laws.

“We appreciate the transparency in the ISPO process because it includes public consultation,” he said.

As a founding component of the Indonesia-Malaysia Palm Oil Group, Nor

Hazlan said Apimi members are committed to further investing in the

republic.

“Sime Darby Bhd has set aside RM350 million to set up a

refinery in south Kalimantan. It will be able to process 2,500 tonnes

per day.

“We’re happy to share business development ideas for

the mutual benefit of both countries. After all, Indonesia and Malaysia

contribute to about 85 per cent of world supply of palm oil. This

industry directly supports some five million jobs and livelihoods,” he

added.

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