On Jokowi’s announcement to ban new oil palm permits, AGRA and APC reaffirm call to stop oil palm plantations
Jakarta, INDONESIA – The Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (AGRA) and the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC) welcome President Jokowi’s announcement to ban new oil palm permits but the groups reiterate its call to stop oil palm plantations.
President Jokowi announced the oil palm moratorium plan on April 14 at Karya Island near Jakarta. The government said in its statement that oil palm plantations already cover 11.4 million hectares (ha). But AGRA claims otherwise, saying “that 12.3 million hectares of lands are planted with oil palm adding that more than 29 million hectares of lands are under concessions with private corporations excluding those plantations owned by the government and/or small companies covering less than 400,000 hectares of lands.”
“The truth is, the moratorium is only temporary and will just delay issuance of new licenses. More so, the moratorium only aims to address overlapping of permits and concessions issued by the ministry of forestry and agriculture and those issued by the regents and the governor. The government’s oil palm moratorium plan will not resolve the land monopoly of corporations,” stressed Rahmat Ajiguna, AGRA chairperson and concurrent APC secretary general.
“Indonesia, is the world’s top palm oil producer, it produced an estimated of 30.9 million tons of the commodity in 2015 and Central Kalimantan was the largest palm oil producer with an output of 3.5 million tons and 1.2 million hectares under cultivation. Unfortunately, rapid plantation expansion is destroying the country’s vast forests displacing peasants from their ancestral lands resulting to severe hunger and poverty and contributing to the annual fires and haze problem,” stated Rahmat.
“The country is hosting 25 companies led by Wilmar and Sinar Mas that controls 29 million hectares. Wilmar is Asia’s largest agribusiness group and has presence not only in Indonesia but in more than 50 other countries as well,” added Rahmat.
“We reiterate our call to stop the corporate-driven and export-oriented palm oil production being supported by Jokowi government and financed by big banks and international financial institutions such as the World Bank,” Rahmat noted saying that “there were testimonies during the APC sponsored “Asia Strategy Meeting on Corporate Oil Palm Plantations” held on March 27-28, 2016 in Jakarta that the palm oil industry is also linked to rampant and systematic human rights violations, including unfair labor practices, child labor, and hazardous working conditions in the plantations in Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines and Indonesia”.
Rahmat further stated that, “the use of toxic pesticides in oil palm cultivation contaminates the water system and the environment of the entire communities. At the same time, it is accompanied with forced migration to mobilize cheap labour.”
Through the “Stop Oil Palm Plantations!” campaign that the APC launched on March 29, 2016, we reaffirm to launch regionally-coordinated actions and activities to further expose and oppose the palm oil industry. We will not only halt the expansion of oil palm plantations but more importantly to take back the lands that rightfully belong to the farmers, farm workers and indigenous peoples”.
The Asia Strategy Meeting was jointly organized by APC, the Asia Monitor Resource Center (AMRC) and the Pesticide Action Network Asia Pacific (PANAP) which was hosted by AGRA. ##