In the past decade, social, economics, and environment were used as the main theme of negative campaign on the Indonesia’s palm oil industry. In fact, many of those campaigns are built on myths or assumptions. This is observed in the book title Myth vs Fact in Indonesia’s Palm Oil Industry in Global Social, Economic, and Environment Issue that is launched by Palm Oil Agribusiness Strategic Policy Institute (PASPI).
“Indonesia’s excellence as agricultural commodity exporter is represented in the palm oil agroindustry. But this agroindustry also has to deal with against-palm-oil-campaign challenges in terms of social, economics, and environment aspects that are considered experiencing destruction due to the palm oil industry development,” said UGM agricultural economy, Dr. Jangkung Handoyo Mulyo, M. Ec., in the Workshop and Book Review hosted by UGM Centre for Agricultural Sovereignty Studies (PAKTA) UGM and PASPI, Thursday (28/7), in Auditorium of Agriculture Faculty UGM.
Pam oil industry is a strategic industry in Indonesia’s economy due to its big contribution to non-fuel and gas exports, job creation, rural development and poverty alleviation. He regretted the rampant negative campaigns against palm oil industry that misled many people as well as disadvantaged Indonesia’s palm oil industry. Initially, the negative campaign was only related to health and nutrition aspects, but recently it has spread to social, economic, and environment aspects.
PASPI Executive Director, Dr. Ir. Tungkot Sipayung, explained that the negative campaign on palm oil industry has last a long time since Indonesia started the people’s agricultural farming of palm oil back in 1980. The concerns coming from vegetable oil industry had triggered the negative campaign to get more rampant at that time.
Now, the campaign has gone even bigger. “Campaign strategy is now more structured, systemic, and massive, involving local and trans-national NGOs that are opposing palm oil industry that intensively use mass media in real life or cyberspace,” he said.
An issue discussed in the book is the forest fires happening in Indonesia that blamed the palm oil industry. As a matter of fact, massive forest fires did not only happen in palm oil centres but also in the region having none such as East and West Java, or West Nusa Tenggara.
“It is true that there are farmers opening lands by setting the peatland on fire, but the number is only as low as 4%. Actually, these people are the one who needs to be educated on the right thing. If forest fires continue to take place, this could become a weapon for competitors to make negative campaigns again,” said Dean of Agriculture of UGM, Dr, Jamhari, S.P., M.P.
He further appreciated the academic studies done on this issue as a tool to educate people on the benefits of palm oil agroindustry.