Palm growers often expressed their grievances about lack of Government attention. In case of fertilizer for example, palm growers must buy fertilizers at double the price of normal farmer’s price as the commodities were not subsidized.
According to Hendrajad Natiwidjaja, Director of Annual Plantation, Director General of Plantation, Ministry of Agriculture the problem was that there was no specified data on palm farmers. Palm farmers processing land under 2 ha were in fact entitled to allocated subsidized fertilizer.
Request for subsidized fertilizer must be forwarded by farmers group as definitive collective need signed by local agriculture illuminators. The problem was that in applying for fertilizers to the ministry of Finance it was required to specify the number of farmers group applying.
“This was the reason that made us difficult in requesting for subsidized fertilizers for palm farmers. The problem was that the data was non-existent. Subsidized fertilizers were much absorbed by sugarcane farmers as they were assisted by sugar mills so the data was available, complete and specified.” Hendradjad remarked.
It was this data shortage that made it difficult for farmers to obtain seeds and fertilizers for plantation rejuvenating by the Government. Data of applicant and the land simply did not match.
For that matter Hendradjad had asked the Regents to compile data of plantation farmers. As written in the Law on Plantation Law for land above 25 ha Regent’s permit was needed, but for land less than 25 ha a letter of Recommendation from the local Plantation Official be sufficient Subsidized fertilizers were only given to qualified farmers.
So far most of the Regents had not executed message of the Plantation Law. in case of permit for big plantations, as they were related to regional income, they were mostly already executed but the list was extremely short.
“I have asked the Regents to collect data. This is most important because in the future plantation companies must be ISPO certified. ISPO is abbreviation of Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil. Without ISPO certificate, neither the Fresh Plums [TBS] nor the CPO could be sold. The most important aspect in ISPO is legality for the company for HGU Forest Utilization. For farmers, the mandatory thing is cultivation permit and land permit.” Hendrajad remarked.
Palm Grower Associations like the Association of Palm Farmers, the Indonesia Palm Farmers Union, and Ex PIR Palm Farmers etc were asked to insist Regents to do certification.
Separately Anizar Simanjuntak, Chairman of APKASINDO stated that in the era of past Government palm farmers position had not been advancing significantly, as indicated by palm farmers bewing edged aside in the pursuit for good welfare, powerless farmer’s Institutions, conflict between framers and companies, measly budget and fund, disadvantageous rules to farmers, mild section on companies not doing partnership or partnership not properly done.
“Although it was clear that palm contribute significantly to state’s income through export tax, and palm growers’ contribution is just as much, they are never prioritized as beneficiary of palm industry development” he said.
In year 2020 total palm plantation area would come to 6 million ha, exceeding that of private and PTPN area. Today the highest expansion rate of people’s plantation area was posted at 10%. “With this vast area we hope that the Government would pay more attention. We are also consolidating so we can have stronger bargaining position” he said.
Apkasindo would strive to increase selling price of fresh plumes which was often low. “To play by the rule supposedly price of plumes was Rp.1,500 – Rp.2,000/kg. Today many are priced at only Rp.1,000/kg. Today the Government could not do anything if there was any palm factory which do not follow Government’s price standard. We will insist the Government to put sanction on such companies” Hendrajad remarked.
CPO export tax should better be returned to farmers for building road and infra-structures and rejuvenating people’s palm plantation; procuring subsidized premium seeds; to develop human resources and strengthen Apkasindo as well as certify farmers’ plantation. (SS)
Business News - November 14, 2014