TEMPO.CO, Pekanbaru- Sinarmas Forestry is helping Riau residents to shift from palm oil cultivation to horticulture through Desa Makmur Peduli Api (DMPA) program and has earmarked up to US$10 million for the program.
Head of Social & Security, Sinarmas Forestry, Agung Wiyono said the program is expected to help improve the economic well-being of Riau people, considering that palm oil has lost its appeal due to falling price.
“We are looking for some varieties in agroforestry that have the potential to generate higher returns compared to that of palm oil,” Agung said at Sinarmas Forestry Community Training and Development Center (BPPM) in Perawang, Riau, Sunday, July 17, 2016.
According to Agung, Sinarmas is also encouraging vegetable farming, cattle farming and catfish cultivation. “We do not push them [local residents] to cultivate certain commodities. We are guiding them to establish food self-sufficiency,” he said.
Social and Security Representative, Sinarmas Forestry Jakarta, Jeffri Nurhalim said that the development of people’s economy in the DMPA is also imperative to prevent forest and land fires.
Sinarmas palm oil concessions and mills are linked to roughly 700 villages in Sumatra and Kalimantan. “Slash-and-burn as a land clearing [method] still persists. Some people still live in poverty in those villages,” Jeffri said.
Therefore, Jeffri said he will combine the concept of forestry with farming in one area. “We are aiming to support people’s productivity, for them to be more responsible in managing lands.”
Jeffry is hopeful that the program could prevent conflict between the people and the company. “We want a harmonic and sustainable relationship,” he said.
Sinarmas Forestry aims to implement the program in 500 villages in Sumatra and Kalimantan until 2020. According to Jeffri, three indicators should be met by villages to become the top priority in the DMPA program. “We will examine the time series of forest fires in the village in question; the higher the risk, [the more] we prioritize it.”