Reflection, Challenges, and Strategies for Implementation of ISPO for the National Palm Oil Industry in the Future

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Along with the increase in income and purchasing power, as well as the opening of access to information and knowledge, there has been a shift in global consumer demands and preferences for products, especially agricultural products. In the past, consumers only focused on price, variety, and availability attributes, but now, consumers are also starting to demand the fulfillment of environmental attributes and social attributes of sustainability on every agricultural product they consume.

On the other hand, palm oil, as the most tradeable vegetable oil in the world, is one of the agricultural products that has been highlighted by the global community. The increasingly intensive and massive black campaign that corners palm oil has made global consumers demand the fulfillment of attributes (social and environmental) in the governance of oil palm cultivation to produce derivative products.

Responding to negative campaigns and global consumer demands related to sustainability issues, the Indonesian government has developed a national standard in order to realize sustainable palm oil plantation governance, namely Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO). Through regulations of the minister of agriculture number 19/2011 issued in March 2011, became the legal basis for the implementation of ISPO in the Indonesian oil palm plantation sector.


To commemorate ten years of ISPO implementation in Indonesian oil palm plantations, STIPER Yogyakarta held a webinar inviting Ir. R. Aziz Hidayat, M.M and Dr. Ir. Tungkot Sipayung. These speakers will discuss the development of ISPO as well as the obstacles and challenges to its implementation.

In his presentation, Ir. R. Aziz Hidayat MM revealed the journey of ISPO implementation from the Minister of Agriculture 19/2011, then Minister of Agriculture 11/2015, to Presidential Decree 44/2020 and Minister of Agriculture 38/2020. The realization of ISPO certification (as of 4 December 2020) has reached 682 ISPO certificates with an area of ​​5.78 million hectares, FFB volume of 60.27 million tons/year and CPO volume of 13 million tons/year, as well as the average productivity and yield of each respectively of 18.96 tons/ha and 24.45%.

Ir. R. Aziz Hidayat MM explained his presentation in Webinar ISPO #1 INSTIPER Yogyakarta “10 Years of Reflection on the Implementation of the ISPO”

If viewed based on the plantation status, private companies already have 610 ISPO certificates, or about 62.76% of the total area of ​​private plantations. The ISPO certificates owned by state companies are 55 certificates, or 32.53% of the total area of ​​state plantations. Meanwhile, the realization of ISPO in smallholder oil palm plantations is relatively small, only around 17 certificates or 0.19% of the total area of ​​smallholder plantations.

Efforts to accelerate the realization of ISPO in accordance with GAPKI’s commitment, have targeted 100% of GAPKI member companies to have ISPO certificates by 2020, but this target was not achieved due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This commitment is still being pursued by accommodating the ISPO Presidential Regulation through the ISPO Socialization Refreshment Training, which is expected to achieve the 100% ISPO target.

On the other hand, the low ISPO realization in smallholder oil palm plantations is due to the problem of land legality, such as they only have a land certificate and their plantations are indicated to be in forest areas. If this problem isn’t resolved, it will continue to be an obstacle to the realization of ISPO in smallholder oil palm plantations and potentially phase out them from the national palm oil industry, considering that ISPO is mandatory for smallholder oil palm plantations based on the ISPO Presidential Regulation.

At the end of his presentation, the Head of ISPO Commission Secretariat for the 2016-2020 period, who currently serves as Government Advisor of PT. SMART Tbk, conveyed the challenges of ISPO in the future, including the acceptance of ISPO certification in the global market, being able to meet the demands of sustainability, and being able to counter the negative issues of palm oil, as well as solving problems in smallholder oil palm plantations to accelerate ISPO certification.

In line with the challenges presented by the previous speaker, Dr. Tungkot Sipayung also conveyed the low global consumer acceptance of Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). In addition to being the largest palm oil producer in the world, Indonesia is also as the largest producer of sustainable palm oil (ISPO and RSPO) in the world.

This is shown by the fact that 55% of the volume of RSPO certified palm oil in the global market comes from Indonesia. Not only in the global palm oil market, Indonesia is also the largest producer of certified sustainable vegetable oil in the world. Because only palm oil has sustainability standards and certification, while other vegetable oils (soybean oil, rapeseed oil, and sunflower seed oil) do not.

Dr. Tungkot Sipayung explained his presentation in Webinar ISPO #1 INSTIPER Yogyakarta “10 Years of Reflection on the Implementation of the ISPO”

The commitment of Indonesia and other palm oil producing countries to produce RSPO certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO and CSPK) does not seem to be commensurate with market absorption. Based on RSPO, of the volume of CSPO and CSPK supplied by the palm oil producing countries, only about 37 percent is absorbed by the market. This shows that there is an oversupply of CSPO and CSPK and implies that there is no premium price.

The data is worth to discussing, considering that the RSPO is a sustainability benchmark for worldwide consumers, including European consumers, but there is an anomaly due to low market absorption. This means that sustainability certification (RSPO) has not been accepted by global consumers. In addition, the RSPO has also not been able to neutralize the negative perception of palm oil in Europe, as evidenced by the growing anti-palm oil campaign. The European Union Community, which is the target consumer of Certified Palm Oil, prefers to choose the Palm Oil Free label on products and doesn’t believe in certified palm oil, which reflects the sustainability in social, economic, and ecological aspects.

Global consumers (including the EU) also have different perspectives regarding the paradigm of sustainability with the RSPO, where the paradigm adopted by consumers is relative sustainability, while the RSPO paradigm is absolute sustainability (sustainable vs unsustainable).

Based on evaluation of the RSPO sustainability certification, Indonesia with the ISPO certification system must develop sustainability concepts and indicators that are able to accommodate the needs of global consumers while also adjusting to the capabilities of domestic palm oil industry actors.

PASPI’s Executive Director suggested changing ISPO’s sustainability paradigm from absolute to relative. With the idea of relative sustainability, which shows the degree of sustainability of Indonesian oil palm plantations is better than the previous year, or better than neighboring plantations. This relative concept still accomodates various obstacles to achieving sustainability, such as land resulting from deforestation or peat land, but oil palm plantation actors must enhance their governance in order to increase the degree of sustainability.

The concept of relative sustainability will also accommodate the demand side (consumer demands) and the supply side (plantation capabilities and conditions). From the demand side, this relative concept will accommodate variations in the degree of sustainability desired by the importing country. For example, the European Union market, which has strict sustainability, wants palm oil free from deforestation and other issues. In contrast to the African and Pakistan markets, which have weak sustainability because these countries want palm oil at a low price. There are also palm oil importing countries with moderate sustainability demands, such as India and China.

Meanwhile, on the supply side, the ability to produce sustainable palm oil is also different. Smallholders with limited capital and technology will produce palm oil with a different level of sustainability than companies. The condition of plantations on mineral lands and peatlands will also produce different levels of sustainability. Similarly, the age of the plantation (cycle) and the origin of the oil palm plantation land (shrub or ex-logging land) will also produce different levels of sustainability.

With the concept of relative sustainability in ISPO, it will produce Diamond-ISPO, Gold-ISPO, and Silver-ISPO. Diamond-ISPO certified is palm oil that has a high degree of sustainability, such as originating from mineral lands that entered the second generation cycle and is intended for strict sustainability markets such as the European Union market.

Unlike the Silver-ISPO certified is palm oil originating from peatlands and intended for the importing country market, it is not too demanding for sustainability (weak sustainability) such as the African market or used in the domestic market as a biofuel feedstock. Although there is a difference in the degree of sustainability of ISPO, oil palm plantation actors are also required to enhance themselves in developing oil palm plantations through continuous enhancement that reflects “advance the class” to create more sustainable oil palm plantations.

Dr. Tungkot Sipayung, in his close presentation session, also conveyed several suggestions for implementing ISPO in the future, namely integrating ISPO with SDGs, promoting ISPO internationally, increasing productivity and efficiency as important indicators in ISPO, and solving the legality problem of smallholder oil palm plantations. By accommodating some of the strategies and suggestions above, it is hoped that it will increase the acceptance and level of trust in ISPO as part of Indonesia’s tool to demonstrate sustainable palm oil plantations to the global market.

Seiring dengan meningkatnya pendapatan dan daya beli serta terbukanya akses informasi dan pengetahuan menyebabkan terjadi pergeseran tuntuan dan preferensi konsumen global terhadap suatu produk, khususnya produk pertanian. Dahulu konsumen hanya fokus pada atribut harga, jenis dan ketersediaan, namun kini, konsumen juga mulai menuntut terpenuhinya atribut lingkungan dan atribut sosial/kemanusian atau atribut sustainability pada setiap produk pertanian yang dikonsumsinya.

Di sisi lain, minyak sawit sebagai the most tradeable vegetable oil in the world menjadi salah satu produk pertanian yang banyak disoroti oleh masyarakat global. Semakin intensif dan masifnya kampanye hitam yang menyudutkan minyak sawit, membuat konsumen global menuntut terpenuhinya atribut (sosial dan lingkungan) dalam tata kelola budidaya sawit untuk menghasilkan produk-produk turunannya.

Untuk menjawab kampanye negatif dan tuntutan konsumen global terkait isu berkelanjutan, pemerintah Indonesia menyusun standar nasional dalam rangka mewujudkan tata kelola perkebunan sawit yang berkelanjutan yaitu Indonesian Palm Oil Sustainability (ISPO). Melalui Peraturan Menteri Pertanian No.19/2011 yang diterbitkan pada Maret tahun 2011 menjadi dasar hukum implementasi ISPO di sektor perkebunan sawit Indonesia.

Untuk memperingati sepuluh tahun implementasi ISPO di perkebunan sawit Indonesia, STIPER Yogyakarta menyelenggarakan webinar dengan mengundang Ir. R. Aziz Hidayat MM dan Dr. Ir. Tungkot Sipayung. Kedua narasumber tersebut akan mengupas tuntas terkait perkembangan ISPO serta hambatan dan tantangan dalam implementasinya.

Dalam paparannya, Ir. R. Aziz Hidayat MM mengungkapkan perjalanan implementasi ISPO dari mulai di masa Permentan 19/2011, kemudian Permentan 11/2015 hingga Perpres 44/2020 dan Permentan 38/2020. Realisasi sertifikasi ISPO (per 4 Desember 2020) telah mencapai 682 sertifikat ISPO dengan luas areal mencapai 5.78 juta hektar, volume TBS sebesar 60.27 juta ton/tahun dan volume CPO sebesar 13 juta ton/tahun, serta tingkat rata-rata produktivitas dan rendemen masing-masing sebesar 18.96 ton/hektar dan 24.45%.

Ir. R. Aziz Hidayat MM sedang memberikan paparannya dalan Webinar ISPO #1 INSTIPER Yogyakarta “10 Years Reflection on the Implementation of the ISPO”

Jika dilihat berdasarkan status pengusahannya, perusahaan swasta telah memiliki 610 sertifikat ISPO atau sekitar 62.76% dari total luas perkebunan sawit swasta. Sertifikat ISPO yang dimiliki oleh perusahaan negara sebanyak 55 sertifikat atau 32.53% dari total luas perkebunan sawit negara. Sementara itu, realisasi ISPO di perkebunan sawit rakyat relatif kecil yakni baru sekitar 17 sertifikat atau 0.19% dari total luas perkebunan sawit rakyat.

Upaya percepatan realisasi ISPO di Indonesia telah sesuai dengan komitmen GAPKI yang telah menargetkan 100% perusahaan anggota GAPKI memiliki sertifikat ISPO pada tahun 2020, namun target tersebut tidak tercapai akibat pandemi Covid-19. Komitmen tersebut juga masih terus diupayakan dengan mengakomodir Perpres ISPO melalui Pelatihan Refreshment Sosialisasi ISPO yang diharapkan target 100% ISPO dapat tercapai.

Di sisi lain, realisasi ISPO yang rendah pada perkebunan sawit rakyat disebabkan masalah legalitas lahan seperti petani hanya memiliki Surat Keterangan Tanah (SKT) dan kebun petani yang terindikasi masuk di kawasan hutan. Jika masalah legalitas tersebut belum terselesaikan, maka akan terus menjadi penghambat realisasi ISPO di perkebunan sawit rakyat dan berpotensi mem-phase out sawit rakyat dari industri sawit nasional, mengingat mandatori ISPO bagi petani sawit rakyat berdasarkan Perpres ISPO.

Diakhir paparannya, Kepala Sekretariat Komisi ISPO periode 2016-2020 yang saat ini menjabat sebagai Government Advisor PT. SMART Tbk, menyampaikan tantangan ISPO ke depan, diantaranya adalah keberterimaan sertifikasi ISPO di pasar global, mampu memenuhi tuntutan sustainability dan mampu meng-counter isu negatif sawit, serta penyelesaian masalah pada perkebunan sawit rakyat untuk mempecepat sertifikasi ISPO pada perkebunan sawit rakyat.

Senada dengan tantangan yang disampaikan oleh narasumber sebelumnya, Dr. Tungkot Sipayung juga menyampaikan rendahnya keberterimaan konsumen global terhadap Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO). Selain menjadi produsen minyak sawit terbesar di dunia, Indonesia juga tercatat menjadi produsen minyak sawit dengan sertifikat berkelanjutan (ISPO dan RSPO) terbesar di dunia. Fakta tersebut ditunjukkan oleh sebesar 55% volume minyak sawit bersertifikasi RSPO dipasar global berasal dari Indonesia. Tidak hanya di pasar minyak sawit global, Indonesia juga menjadi produsen minyak nabati tersertifikat berkelanjutan terbesar di dunia. Hal ini dikarenakan hanya minyak sawit yang memiliki standar dan sertifikasi keberlanjutan, sedangkan minyak nabati lain (minyak kedelai, minyak rapeseed dan minyak biji bunga matahari) tidak memilikinya.

Dr. Tungkot Sipayung sedang memberikan paparannya dalan Webinar ISPO #1 INSTIPER Yogyakarta “10 Years Reflection on the Implementation of the ISPO”

Komitmen Indonesia dan negara-negara produsen minyak sawit dunia dalam menghasilkan minyak sawit berkelanjutan yang tersertifikasi RSPO (CSPO dan CSPK), tampaknya tidak sebanding dengan daya serap pasar. Berdasarkan data RSPO, dari volume CSPO dan CSPK yang di pasok dari negara-negara produsen minyak sawit dunia, hanya sekitar 37 persen yang terserap pasar. Hal ini menunjukkan terjadi oversupply CSPO dan CSPK dan berimplikasi pada tidak adanya harga premium.

Data tersebut menarik untuk dibahas, mengingat RSPO dianggap sebagai standar keberlanjutan yang diinginkan oleh konsumen global, termasuk konsumen Eropa, namun terjadi anomali karena daya serap pasar yang rendah. Artinya sertifikasi keberlanjutan (RSPO) belum diterima oleh konsumen global. Selain itu, RSPO juga belum mampu menetralisir persepsi negatif sawit di Eropa ditunjukkan dengan meningkatnya gerakan anti sawit. Masyarakat Uni Eropa yang merupakan target konsumen dari Certified Palm Oil lebih memilih label Palm Oil Free dan belum meyakini certified palm oil yang mencerminkan adanya jaminan keberlanjutan minyak sawit pada aspek sosial, ekonomi dan ekologi.

Konsumen global (termasuk konsumen Uni Eropa) juga memiliki perbedaan pandangan terkait paradigma sustainability dengan RSPO, dimana paradigma yang dianut oleh konsumen adalah relative sustainability sedangkan paradigma RSPO adalah absolute sustainability (sustainable vs unsustaianble).

Berdasarkan evaluasi sertifikasi keberlanjutan RSPO tersebut, Indonesia dengan sistem sertifikasi ISPO harus mengembangkan konsep dan indikator keberlanjutan yang mampu mengakomodir tuntutan konsumen global dengan tetap menyesuaikan dengan kemampuan pelaku industri sawit di dalam negeri.

Direktur Eksekutif PASPI ini menyarankan perubahan paradigma sustainability pada ISPO yaitu dari absolut menjadi relatif. Dengan konsep relative sustainability yang menunjukkan derajat keberlanjutan tata kelola perkebunan sawit Indonesia lebih baik dibandingkan tahun sebelumnya, atau lebih baik dibandingkan kebun sawit tetangga. Konsep relatif ini masih mengakomodir berbagai hambatan dalam pencapaian keberlanjutan seperti lahan hasil deforestasi atau lahan gambut, tetapi pelaku perkebunan sawit tersebut harus berupaya untuk naik kelas dan memperbaiki tata kelolanya sehingga lebih derajat keberlanjutannya meningkat.

Konsep relative sustainability ini juga akan mengakomodir demand side (tuntutan konsumen) dan supply side (kemampuan dan kondisi perkebunan). Dari sisi permintaan (demand), konsep relative ini akan mengakomodir variasi derajat keberlanjutan yang diinginkan oleh negara importir. Misalnya pasar Uni Eropa yang memiliki strictly sustainability yang menginginkan minyak sawit bebas deforestasi dan isu lainnya. Berbeda dengan pasar Afrika dan Pakistan dengan tuntutan weakly sustainability karena negara tersebut mengingkan minyak sawit dengan harga yang murah. Ada juga negara importir sawit dengan tuntutan moderate sustainability seperti India dan China.

Sementara itu dari sisi suplai (supply side), kemampuan untuk memproduksi minyak sawit yang berkelanjutan juga berbeda. Petani sawit rakyat dengan keterbatasan modal dan teknologi akan menghasilkan minyak sawit yang level keberlanjutannya berbeda dengan perusahaan perkebunan. Kondisi perkebunan pada lahan mineral dan lahan gambut juga akan menghasilkan level keberlanjutannya berbeda. Begitu juga dengan umur kebun (siklus) dan asal usul lahan kebun sawit (semak belukar atau lahan ex-logging) juga akan menghasilkan perbedaan level keberlanjutannya.

Dengan konsep relative sustainability pada ISPO maka akan menghasilkan Diamond-ISPO, Gold-ISPO dan Silver-ISPO. Minyak sawit yang bersertifikat Diamod-ISPO adalah minyak sawit yang memiliki derajat keberlanjutan yang tinggi seperti berasal dari lahan mineral yang masuk siklus generasi kedua dan ditujukan untuk pasar yang strictly sustainability seperti pasar Uni Eropa.

Berbeda dengan minyak sawit yang bersertifikat Silver-ISPO yang berasal dari lahan gambut dan ditujukan untuk pasar negara importir tidak terlalu menuntut keberlanjutan (weakly sustainability) seperti pasar Afrika atau digunakan di pasar domestik sebagai bahan baku biofuel. Meskipun terjadi perbedaan pada derajat keberlanjutan ISPO, namun pelaku perkebunan sawit juga dituntut untuk berbenah diri dalam mengusahakan perkebunan sawit melalui perbaikan terus menerus (continues improvement) yang mencerminkan “naik kelas” untuk mewujudkan perkebunan sawit yang semakin berkelanjutan.

Menutup sesi paparannya, Dr. Tungkot Sipayung juga menyampaikan beberapa saran dalam rangka implementasi ISPO ke depan yaitu mengintegrasikan ISPO dengan SDGs, melakukan promosi ISPO secara internasional, peningkatan produktivitas dan efisiensi jadi indikator penting dalam ISPO dan penyelesaian masalah legalitas sawit rakyat. Dengan mengakomodir beberapa strategis dan saran diatas, diharapkan dapat meningkatkan keberterimaan dan tingkat kepercayaan terhadap ISPO sebagai bagian dari alat Indonesia untuk menunjukkan perkebunan sawit yang berkelanjutan ke pasar global.

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