Millennials as the Front Line in Defending Indonesian Palm Oil Industry from Black Campaign
The development of oil palm plantations in Indonesia is spread across 255 districts, from Aceh to Papua. Based on the results of reconciliation of oil palm plantation land cover data in 2019 and legalized through the Decree of the Minister of Agriculture Number 833/KPTS/SR. 020/M/12/2019, stated that the area of Indonesian oil palm plantations reached 16.38 million hectares.
The latest Indonesian Palm Oil Statistics data states that the production of palm oil (CPO) in 2018 is 42.88 million tons and is expected to increase to 45.86 million tons in 2019. Meanwhile, Malaysia as a palm oil producer also has oil palm plantations with an area of 5.3 million hectares with a production volume CPO amounted to 20.8 million tons in 2018 and decreased to 19.8 million tons in 2019. This shows that Indonesia’s position as the largest palm oil producer in the world has not been replaced since 2006.
Besides being the largest palm oil producer in the world, Indonesia with its palm oil has also succeeded in replacing the dominance of soybean oil in the world vegetable oil market. The dominance of palm oil also triggers competition. Even the trade competition between vegetable oils has driven the development of a negative campaign aimed at inhibiting the trade in palm oil and it’s derivative product on the global market.
This negative campaign is not a new things for the palm oil industry. The negative campaign of anti-palm oil voiced by transnational and national NGOs has been around since the early 1980s and has more intensive in the last decade. Negative campaign themes also vary, ranging from environmental issues, health issues, and even recently using social issues again such as indigenous peoples to the exploitation of children and women. Even though these issues are not prove based on the facts. However, this negative campaign is very detrimental to the palm oil industry because it can lead to wrong perceptions of palm oil in the global consumers and threatens the future sustainability of the palm oil industry.
The negative palm oil campaign does not only come from other countries, the biggest challenge also comes from within our own country. Currently, anti-palm oil NGOs and the press media that have been affiliated with palm oil-producer countries that bring the issue of negative campaigns against palm oil have targeted the millennial generation and Indonesian students. This is because millennials are the largest internet user group in Indonesia, so that they can be easily influenced through photos or videos with negative campaign narratives against palm oil. The millennial generation immediately “consumed” the information without filters and didn’t a check and re-check regarding the truth of the issue.
The millennial generation is an important community group because they become agents of change who will take advantage of opportunities to further contribute to the economy and increase welfare in the Demographic Divendend in 2030. Including in the national palm oil industry, the millennial generation will also be a determinant of the fate of the Indonesian palm oil industry in the future, whether it will succeed in making Indonesia a global player or vice versa, Indonesia’s dominance with palm oil is getting “gloomy” in the global market.
Therefore, it is necessary to provide positive insights related to palm oil to the millennial generation so that there will be a sense of love and willingness to defend the interests of the national palm oil industry from interference and threats.
In line with this, the Indonesian Government through the Palm Oil Fund Management Agency (Badan Pengelola Dana Perkebunan Kelapa Sawit/BPDPKS) regularly holds a DigiTalk Sawit program specifically made for the Indonesian millennial generation. The program discussed positive topics such as the role of oil palm and its derivative products in everyday human life until the contribution of the palm oil industry to the economy, social welfare, and the environment.
It is hoped that through DigiTalk Sawit, as literacy event that can open the views of the millennial generation so that they do not easily believe hoax news that is deliberately framed to throw down the image of Indonesian palm oil because basically these issues are made as part of a trade war that is disrupted by the presence of palm oil.
Palm Oil Agribusiness Strategic Policy Institute (PASPI) as a think-tank of the palm oil industry is also doing the same thing by implementing a similar program, namely Palm O’Corner. The program collaborates with Student Associations at various Indonesian universities with the aim of carrying out advocacy (counter issues) and promotions to build a positive image of palm oil which is expected to stimulate the interest of the millennial generation, especially campus communities in the palm oil industry.
In addition, PASPI also has a Sawitpreneur program which aims to initiate the development of start-ups that create innovations in the palm oil sector. This program is based on the increasing trend of the millennial generation’s interest in developing start-ups and this interest is used as an effective way to make the millennials participate and as a driving force for the palm oil industry in the future.
It is hoped that with these various programs that involve the participation of the millennial generation can be at the front line as a defender that is capable of maintaining and strengthening Indonesia’s sovereignty as the largest palm oil-producer country in the world amidst various black campaign attacks and trade barriers from importing or other vegetable oils producer-countries (palm oil competitors) that are considered crop-apharteid and discriminate to palm oil.
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