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.
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
“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
“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
“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
“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