Jakarta – Acting Aceh governor Nova Iriansyah has lashed out at the notion that oil palm plantations in the province contributed to environmental degradation, saying it was impossible for Acehnese farmers to harm the environment.
"If [the farmers] damaged the environment, foreign countries would not purchase crude palm oil produced by Acehnese farmers," Nova said in West Aceh on Monday as quoted by Antara news agency.
Nova said a negative campaign against Indonesia's palm oil affected farmers in the province, as it led to a decline in crude palm oil (CPO) prices, which came amid the European Union's plan to curb the use of the commodity.
Fifty-one percent of more than 140,000 hectares of oil palm plantations in Aceh were smallholdings, while the remainder belonged to companies, Nova said, adding that the anti-palm oil campaign had to be stopped as it could further affect local farmers' revenue.
In an effort to support CPO prices and counter negative sentiment, Nova said, he and some ministerial officials had recently visited the Netherlands and met with investors, businesspeople and government officials from the EU and assured them that the production of Indonesia's palm oil, especially in Aceh, did not damage the environment.
The massive campaign against the use of palm oil in Europe has led the EU Commission to adopt a directive on renewable energy that will phase out the use of palm oil in the EU's biofuel sector and ban it by 2030, arguing that the production of CPO led to deforestation, reduced biodiversity and increased greenhouse gas emissions.
Indonesia, the world's largest producer of the commodity, strongly opposes the regulation and calls the ban discriminatory. The country has been sending high-level envoys and ministers to lobby the EU. (ars/afr)