Palm Oil Growers Have Until January to Shape Up
Indonesian palm oil growers must comply by January with a environmental certification system being launched by the government, the Agriculture Ministry said on Monday.
The compulsory system, called Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO), will be implemented by the end of this month.
The government released a draft of the certification criteria last week at a meeting with palm oil stakeholders in Yogyakarta.
Deputy Agriculture Minister Bayu Krisnamurthi said there were more than 100 requirements in the ISPO that growers would need to meet.
Under the system, new plantations will not be allowed in conservation and protected forests, while producers will be required to manage waste responsibly and introduce renewable energy for the production process, he said. New plantations will be allowed in peatland but only in areas deeper than three meters, Bayu said.
The government plans to use private companies to certify palm oil growers. Bayu said there weren’t currently enough of these types of companies in Indonesia so foreign operators would be encouraged to apply.
The government was trying to ensure the new system didn’t place to much of a burden on small-scale palm oil growers, who own about 40 percent of the nation’s plantations, he said.
The new system is being introduced as palm oil producers come under attack from environmentalists.
Global consumer products giant Unilever suspended purchases from major palm oil producer the Sinar Mas Group in December after Greenpeace alleged it was devastating rainforests and habitats for endangered species. Nestle followed suit in March.
Currently, some Indonesian palm oil producers are certified by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, an international organization. Greenpeace has claimed the government system is intended as a way for growers to avoid having to adhere to RSPO standards.