The History of Indonesian Palm Oil Development Since Colonialization Era
Perhaps many of peole do not know that Indonesian oil palm plantations come from germplasm plants collection at the Bogor Botanical Gardens. Not only in Indonesia, but oil palm tree in Malaysia also comes from the Bogor Botanical Gardens.
De Oliepalm’s publications (Hunger, 1917; Hunger, 1924) and Investigations on Oil palms (Rutgers et al., 1922) were the first publications that spreading information about the origins of palm oil development in Indonesia. In 1848, it was the first year that oil palm was introduced to Indonesia. Four seeds were brought from Bourbon by the Dutch government for planted in the Bogor Botanical Gardens. The planting of the seeds is not only part of the germplasm collection in the Bogor Botanical Gardens, but also as a process of acclimation (environmental adaptation) of oil palm plants.
In 1858, the Secretary of the Dutch Colonial Office in the Dutch East Indies invited the Netherland Government to plant oil palm in Indonesia. Furthermore, 146 lots of oil palm seeds were distributed to Java, Madura, Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku and Nusa Tenggara. Before 1860, the Dutch colonial also developed an experimental oil palm plantations, the area is about 3.4 hectares in Banyumas and 0.74 hectares in Palembang.
Then in 1875, oil palm seeds originated from the Bogor Botanical Gardens were sent and planted in the Deli Sumatra District and four years later it was reported that they were growing very well. The lack of publication about the benefits of palm oil at that time led to the absence of an oil palm plantation industry before 1911.
But in the era of Industrial Revolution that occured in the mid-19th century, there was an increse of demand for vegetable oils, one of them was palm oil. Therefore, oil palm plantation began to be cultivated and commercially in the Dutch East Indies since 1911. One of the entrepreneurs is Belgian citizen named Adrien Hallet, who developed oil palm plantation in the East Sumatra region which included Pulo Raja (Asahan) and Liput River (Aceh).
At the same time, K.Schadt, a German citizen, also planted 2 thousand of oil palm seeds in Tanah Itam Ulu. This is a sign of the early period of oil palm plantation development in Indonesia.
In the colonial era, the structure of oil palm plantations in both the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) and the Malay Peninsula (Malaysia) was generally carried out by foreign private companies which were characterized by capital-intensive and labor-intensive investments.
The successfull story of commercialization of trials plantation has encouraged the development of a oil palm plantation in massive scale. The processing of oil palm fruit fruit bunch (FFB) has also begun in the palm oil milling which was first built in Sei Liput in 1918. In addition, the export of Indonesian crude palm oil (CPO) was also carried out for the first time in 1919.
During the time of the Japanese position, the development of oil palm plantations decreased by 16% of the total land area. Once exported 250 thousand tons of palm oil in 1940, then palm oil production in Indonesia only reached 56 thousand tons in 1948. Unfortunately, during that period, many oil palm plantations and mills were replaced with food crops, so the activity in the palm oil industry was stopped.
Indonesia’s CPO export once reached of 250 thousand tons o in 1940, but it’s production continued to decline reaching only 56 thousand tons in 1948. During that period, the decline of oil palm plantations and mills was increasingly evident, as indicated by the replacement of oil palm with food crops . This condition indicates that the oil palm industrial activities stopped during the Japanese colonialism era.
Now, oil palm plantation has grown in more than 255 districts from Aceh to Papua. In these areas, they have provided multifunctional for people both in Indonesia and the world. From the four oil palm seeds planted in Bogor Botanical Garden, Indonesia has now become the world’s largest producer of palm oil since 2006 and has generated billions of US dollars each year of foreign exchange for Indonesia. Even in the midst of the pandemic and the current threat of a global economic recession, the palm oil industry able to become the locomotive that drives and saves the Indonesian economy.
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