Palm Oil Players in Malaysia, Indonesia Form Group

Collaboration to engage with RSPO for

more practical sustainable criteria

KUCHING: Palm oil

producers in Indonesia and Malaysia have established the

Indonesia-Malaysia Palm Oil Group (IMPOG) to formalise their

collaboration on sustainable palm oil development.

IMPOG’s first

chairman will be from the Association of Plantation Investors of

Malaysia in Indonesia, which will also serve as its secretariat this

year.

“The chairmanship will be rotated bi-annually,” said a

joint communique issued after the first meeting of Malaysian and

Indonesian palm oil producers here yesterday.

The communique said

the group had set up a steering committee to focus on emerging research

and development, sustainability related issues and communication to

stakeholders.

“IMPOG did not discuss any alternative

sustainability certification scheme for palm oil. However, the meeting

agreed to engage with the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) for a

more practical and implementable scheme,” it added.

Earlier,

Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok

said Malaysia opposed the inclusion of greenhouse gas emission

calculations in the RSPO principles and criteria for palm oil

certification as such calculations varied widely from mineral soils to

peatland.

“The adoption of greenhouse gas emission calculation

when palm oil is used for food purposes does not create a level playing

field. Producers of other food crops such as wheat, cattle and sheep are

not subjected to such scrutiny,” he added.

He said the oil palm

tree was unique because of its inherent high productivity and efficient

carbon assimilation.

Dompok said under current practices, oil

palm was the highest yielding crop in the world, easily surpassing,

sometimes up to 10 times, the oil yield of competing oilseed crops.

He

warned Malaysian and Indonesian palm oil producers, who together

contribute some 85% of the world’s palm oil production, not to

compromise on sustainable practices as the consequences would be

damaging and have far-reaching impact on the industry.

Indonesian

Palm Oil Association (Gapki) chairman Purboyo Guritno, who led the

Indonesian delegation, said the time was ripe for palm oil producers in

both countries to adopt a proactive strategy to counter the threats by

the Western anti-palm oil movement.

“So far, we have always taken

a defensive mode, hoping that the anti-palm oil movement will give up

with improving knowledge on the positive impact of palm oil industry in

poverty alleviation and economic growth, and the rising demand for food

and energy that can only be met by palm oil development,” he said.

However,

he said it was awful to see escalating threats from the anti-palm oil

movement and the magnitude of challenges faced by the oil palm industry.

Purboyo said the meeting of palm oil producers in Malaysia and

Indonesia marked an incredible turn of events to jointly address the

growing pressures and threats from competitors and their allies in

pushing for more rigorous environmental, social standards and

requirements.

Six organisations that represent oil palm growers

in Indonesia and Malaysia signed a memorandum of collaboration for the

establishment of a producers’ cooperation forum on sustainable palm oil

in Jakarta recently.

Besides Gapki, the other signatories were

Malaysian Palm Oil Association, Sarawak Oil Palm Plantation Owners

Association, Association of Plantation Investors of Malaysia in

Indonesia, Indonesia Oil Palm Smallholders Association and Federal Land

Development Authority.

Source : The Star by Jack Wong

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