RI to celebrate palm oil industry centenary
The Indonesian Palm Oil Producer Association (GAPKI) will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the palm oil industry in Indonesia by organizing a series of seminars, exhibitions, sports tournaments and charity events in March 2011.
“Commemorating the 100th year of commercialization is important because the palm oil industry has grown rapidly, making a significant contribution to the economy of Indonesia,” GAPKI chairman Joefly Bahroeny told journalists on Friday.
He said the palm oil industry contributed US$15.6 billion in foreign exchange earnings in 2008.
GAPKI executive director Fadhil Hasan said over the phone that the seminar would assess the performance of the palm oil industry in the past century and discuss necessary measures to improve it in the future.
Indonesia has become the world’s largest palm oil producer since 2009, with a total production of 20.9 million tons followed by Malaysia with an output of 17.7 million tons.
Joefly expects palm oil production to increase by 4 percent to 22 million tons this year.
The association said this year’s exports has reached 16 million tons, exceeding the planned 15 million tons due to increasing demand.
The chairman of the celebration organizing committee, Balaman Tarigan, said events would be held on March 28 to 30 in Medan, North Sumatra, for historical reasons.
“North Sumatra was the first province where palm oil commercialization started in 1911,” said Balaman, who is also chairman of GAPKI’s North Sumatra chapter.
Pulu Raja estate in North Sumatra and Sei Liput estate in Aceh were first two plantations ,starting in 1911.
These two estates now are just a small part of the 7.4 million hectares of palm oil plantation in Indonesia.
GAPKI said oil palms were first introduced as ornamental plants to Indonesia in 1848 from West Africa.
Commercial plantations began after research by British scientist William Lever in Africa in the 1900s.
Balaman said the celebration would be attended by plantation owners, business people and association representatives.
“The event will also correct public misconceptions that palm oil plantations have damaged the environment,” he said, adding that the palm oil industry actually helped improve the environment because the oil palm plantations produced more oxygen.
“Furthermore, the palm oil industry has indeed created job opportunities and increased the country’s income,” Balaman said. (map)