TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Head of Indonesia's Palm Oil Producers Association (Gapki), Joko Supriyono, has asked Vice President Jusuf Kalla to list palm oil as a strategic commodity. According to Supriyono, the palm oil industry is a significant contributor to Indonesia's economic growth - for it provides jobs and livelihoods for at least four million Indonesians.
Furthermore, continued Supriyono, the palm oil industry has played a significant role in helping the government to eradicate poverty and develop rural areas. Supriyono said that Indonesia's palm oil industry generates some US$21 billion in foreign exchange, and forms 13,4 percent of Indonesia's total exports - making it the second largest source of foreign exchange, only behind oil-and-gas exports.
"When we look over these facts and figures, I would like to propose - in front of our Vice President - to nominate palm oil as a strategic commodity," said Supriyono at the the 10th Indonesian Palm Oil Conference (IPOC) in Bali on Thursday, November 26, 2015.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla welcomed the idea as the continued sustainability of the palm oil industry will help Indonesia meet its' food and energy needs - both for export purposes as well as domestic use. Kalla also acknowledged the fact that the industry is one of Indonesia's biggest source of foreign exchange, as well as its' role in ensuring the welfare of Indonesia's rural population.
Kalla predicted that the demand for palm oil will continue to rise as Indonesia's population and average income continues to grow. "This industry is a source of power - with close ties to the food industry," he said.
The Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security Affairs, Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, said that Indonesia's palm oil industry needs to be shielded from the smear campaigns which creates the impression that the industry is harmful to health and natural conservation.
"Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) talk about how the industry is killing off our monkeys - I say, the government will not hesitate to ban NGOs from embarking on these smear campaigns against the industry, which is harmful to the stability of the nation," he said.