The Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association ( Gapki ) has officially withdrawn from the Kuala Lumpur-based Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil ( RSPO ) to fully support the local sustainable palm oil scheme, an executive says.
Gapki chairman Fadhil Hasan said that as a national entity his association wanted to commit to the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil ( ISPO ) scheme, a sustainability platform set up by the government and mandatory for all local firms.
“We want to be neutral and accommodate all interests, as some of our members participate in the RSPO while the rest do not,” he told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
Fadhil said that since membership in the RSPO was voluntary, such withdrawals were normal and did not imply that Gapki was not committed to sustainability.
“Indonesian firms will continue to produce sustainable palm oil, which at present reaches around 1.95 million tons per year,” he said, adding that Gapki had no worries that its members would lose its big buyers following the move.
Indonesia produced 21 million tons of palm oil in 2010.
The RSPO is an international organization of producers, distributors, conservationists and other stakeholders that determines criteria for sustainable palm oil certification. It was established in 2004 as a response to the global call for sustainable palm oil.
Indonesia, the world’s largest palm oil producer, implemented its own palm oil certification standards in August. The ISPO certification covers various measures such as plantation licenses and plantation management, cultivation techniques, environmental management and surveillance, as well as responsibilities to employees and the public.
Fadhil said Gapki still allows its members to maintain their ties with the RSPO, but requires them to fulfill the requirements issued by the ISPO.
“We have a positive outlook about the issuance of the ISPO, as it creates an alternative framework for palm oil standards and certification in the industry. The variation in certification and organizations will encourage healthy competition in producing sustainable palm oil,” he said.
Indonesia representative for RSPO Desi Kusumadewi was not available for comment. Sawit Watch campaign head Jefri Gideon Saragih considered Gapki’s withdrawal to be a normal move due to its voluntary membership and because it was likely that the RSPO no longer
accommodated Gapki’s interests.
— JP/Linda Yulisman