Palm Oil Famers Union (SPKS) urged oil palm plantation companies having plasma plots to accommodate oil palm fresh fruits bunches produced by independent farmers. National Coordinator of SPKS, Mansuetus Sarto, stated this matter.
Formers' oil palm fresh fruit bunches have newer bean directly accepted by factories owned by core companies. Therefore, farmers are forced to sell them to tengkulak (middlemen) who buy of cheap price which is below the price decided by the price deciding team at provincial level. If they do net sell them to tongkulak, their oil palm will be rotten.
This situation happens in all regencies across Indonesia. Palm fruits produced by independent farmers are not accepted by core companies. While, the central as well as regional governments are unable to solve this problem. Independent farmers have never been managed by the government from the technical aspect of oil palm farming. Government tends to ask oil palm companies to manage farmers under a partnership scheme.
Size of independent oil palm estate in Indonesia reaches 1.4 million hectare, which is larger than number of farmers involved under partnership schema. Farming system of independent farmers has been quite good with production equal to plasma farmers at 14 ton/hectare/year. This should have been appreciated by oil palm factories and government.
Companies who are involved in the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) apply sustainable oil palm system based on sustainable business principles.
“But, independent farmers are the ones who apply more of the sustainable oil palm principles honoring sustainable principles. Unfortunately, companies joined under RSPO refused to accept oil palm fruits produced by independent farmers. They should accept oil palm fruits produced by independent farmers because farmers have applied sustainable principles”, he said.
SPKS urged the government to arrange a new regulation concerning independent oil palm farmers so that oil palm factories can buy oil palm fresh fruit bunches from independent farmers. RSPO is also demanded to renew its principles and criteria by requiring its members to accept oil palm produced by independent farmers who honor sustainable plantation principles.
Riyanto Sitanggang, palm oil analyst. said that when price declined last month, price of fresh fruit bunch at independent farmer level in Riau was averagely Rp500 - Rp700/kg even though upon arrival at SPKS, the price was stable at Rp950/kg. The reason is that farmers cannot directly sell to SPKS, but must sell them through tengkulak.
Bungaran Saragih, Social Economic Professor of Agriculture at Bogor Agricultural Institute (IPB) and former Agriculture Minister, said that the prospect of Indonesia’s oil palm lies in the hands of independent community plantation. It will be more and more difficult for oil palm companies to develop oil palm business through expansion. Oil palm companies will be more oriented toward productivity increase. Research on this matter has been done mostly in laboratories, and if it is applied, production could increase up to 100%.
Area expansion in a large scale will be increasingly difficult so that community plantation farmers still have the opportunity to do expansion. “They do not need land of up to 10,000 hectare, they can cultivate an area of only a 5-10 hectare size. Among large oil palm estates, there are 5-100 hectare areas located outside the forests, and these areas will be cultivated by farmers”, he said.
In the future, oil palm plantations will he owned by farmers, while oil palm companies will operate CPO factory and the downstream sector. In such a condition, oil palm farmers will become a new middle class in Indonesia.
Business New - November 14, 2012