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Farmers union calls govt plan for palm oil bleaching 'not transparent'

Tempo - September 21, 2023

Riani Sanusi Putri, Jakarta – The head of the advocacy department at the Palm Oil Farmers Union (SPKS) Marselinus Andy criticized the government's plan of bleaching or pardoning the 3.3 million hectares of illegal plantation. Andy believed that this policy was not transparent.

SPKS mentioned that the union has not been able to find the Decision Letter and technical guidelines as well as the indicative map used by the government for illegal smallholders' palm oil plantation bleaching."The map is necessary so [the process] could be supervised by the civilians. However, the [current] process is not transparent," he said to Tempo on Wednesday, September 20, 2023.

Meanwhile, the government is planning to combat illegal plantations in forest areas through the regime of the Job Creation Law. According to SPKS, the step is only operational for companies, not smallholders' plantations.

There are several reasons for that assessment. First, Andy said, smallholder plantations are unable to implement self-reporting schemes to manage their licenses. "The farmers do not have the capability for [self-reporting]. There is no data and no facilitates present at the regency level," he added.

Additionally, the management agency is centralized at the national level. There are no regional task forces to verify the inventory of smallholders' palm oil plantations. Technical guidelines to prepare the infrastructure to connect unmapped plantations with the task force are also unavailable.

For these reasons, the settlement scheme provided in Governmental Regulation No. 24 of 2021 is inoperable for smallholder plantations. A similar problem is found in the forest management strategy regulated in GR No. 23 of 2021 on smallholders' palm oil plantations under five hectares.

Thus, Andy believed, the government should focus its initial phase on conducting thorough data gathering. The settlement also ought to be conducted regional level, from the mapping, inventory, and verification.

"To differentiate the smallholder palm oil plantations with the companies," he said.

Yesterday, Palm Oil Watch and the Indonesia Human Rights Committee for Social Justice also filed a lawsuit against the government's plan to pardon illegal plantations in forest areas.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1774527/farmers-union-calls-govt-plan-for-palm-oil-bleaching-not-transparen