The Jakarta Post
The Indonesian Employers Association (Apindo) and the Indonesian Oil Palm Farmers Association (Apkasindo) have called on the government to take firm action against environmental watchdog Greenpeace, which they say harms Indonesia’s economy.
The statement was in response to Greenpeace activists staging a rally on a Wilmar International-owned tanker transporting crude palm oil from a refinery in Dumai, Riau, to Europe. The ship was in the Bay of Cádiz in Spain when the activists boarded and unfurled banners that read “Save Our Rainforest” and “Drop Dirty Palm Oil".
Greenpeace campaigners have said they believe the palm oil industry could use methods that did not destroy the environment. "Palm oil can be made without destroying the forests," said Kiki Taufik, Greenpeace global campaigner on forests, in a statement on the group’s website.
“The state has to side with the palm oil industry that is being threatened by Greenpeace, because the state has profited from the foreign currency [palm oil brings in],” Apindo trade division head Benny Soetrisno said, as quoted by Antara, adding that palm oil exports had reached US$22.97 billion in 2017.
“[Greenpeace’s] actions have been let go for too long. The result is, now palm oil exports are prevented from entering Europe he said.
Apkasindo deputy chairman Rino Afrino said Greenpeace’s campaign had insulted the dignity of Indonesia with accusations of dirty palm oil.
In a report released in September, Greenpeace claimed that 25 palm oil producers had cleared 130,000 hectares of Indonesian rainforest since 2015, 18 of which supplied palm oil to Wilmar. Wilmar disputed the report, saying, “Greenpeace’s allegation that Wilmar is failing at monitoring our supply chain is based on a wilful lack of understanding of our work on the ground.”
“Can Greenpeace prove that the palm oil sold by Wilmar damages the environment?” Rino said. “Their campaign destroys the image of Indonesian palm oil.”
Meanwhile, in a separate occasion, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo threw his support behind the industry, saying universities should have “palm oil departments” given the importance of the commodity for Indonesia’s economy.
“We have 14 million hectares of palm oil [plantations], but we don’t have any palm oil departments [in universities],” he said in Lamongan, East Java, on Monday. (kmt/evi)