The Fate of Oil Palm Plantation Moratorium, Extended or Not?

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Allegations against palm oil and its industry in Indonesia, both in the form of black campaigns and discriminatory trade policies of importing countries, have grown significantly over the last two decades. As a reaction to this phenomenon as well as in order to improve the image of Indonesian palm oil, the government issued a palm oil moratorium through Presidential Instruction (Inpres) No. 8 of 2018.

This policy has momentum in order to improve and enhance sustainable management of oil palm plantations, provide legal certainty, fostering of oil palm smallholders, as well as maintain and protect environmental sustainability, including reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The Presidential Instruction contains 12 instructions to ministries and state institutions as well as local governments to stop granting permits to open new oil palm plantations, resolve licensing issues and overlapping lands to implement sustainable oil palm cultivation through increased productivity and ISPO.

moratorium

On September 19, 2021, the implementation of the oil palm moratorium entered its 3rd year, which also marked the end of this Presidential Instruction. This condition raises the question of whether the government should extends the moratorium or not. The pros and cons of this condition have also become a hot topic of discussion among palm oil stakeholders, academics and environmentalists.

 

During the Presidential Instruction on the oil palm moratorium, the Government of Indonesia has showed its commitment to improving the governance of oil palm plantations. For example, the establishment of One Map through the Decree of the Minister of Agriculture No. 833/2019 related to the land cover area of ​​Indonesian oil palm plantations of 16.38 million hectares in 2019 and the issuance of Presidential Regulation 44/2020 related to strengthening ISPO.

However, there are still many parties, such as the Yayasan Madani Berkelanjutan, Greenpeace Indonesia, Sawit Watch, and Walhi, as well as the association of oil palm smallholders who are members of POPSI, assessing that there has been no significant progress towards the goals to be achieved in the Presidential Instruction, so this moratorium policy must be continued.

The demand for the extension of the Inpres moratorium is raises because there are still many unresolved governance issues, such as evaluating permits and the legality of oil palm plantations that were indicated to be in forest areas. It is estimated that around 3.4 million hectares of oil palm plantations are located in forest areas and 2.78 million hectares of them are smallholder oil palm plantations. The issuance of the Job Creation Law and its derivative legal products is also considered to have not been able to solve the problem of the legality of smallholder plantations, even though this problem is the key to realizing a sustainable smallholder oil palm plantation through PSR and ISPO’s program.

The implication of this can be seen from the low achievement of the national PSR, which shows that the realization of smallholder oil palm plantations area for the period 2016 to August 31, 2021 at 230.47 thousand hectares. Meanwhile, ISPO’s achievements in their plantations (as of 4 December 2020) was only 17 certificates or 0.91 percent of the total area of ​​smallholder oil palm plantations.

On the other hand, Prof. Sudarsono, Professor of the Faculty of Forestry IPB, said that the moratorium on new oil palm plantation permits did not need to be extended and even Presidential Instruction 8/2018 should not exist. Because the management should be improved is the forestry sector, which is under the authority of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry. Oil palm plantations, which are a productive and leading sector for the Indonesian economy, should be defended and permits made easy as an effort to improve the welfare of the Indonesian people.

In the Webinar #INAPalmOilTalk, Prof. Yanto, Professor of the Faculty of Forestry IPB, also stated that the palm oil moratorium caused huge economic losses because it became an impediment for the palm oil industry that had implemented sustainable governance as a strategic sector for the Indonesian economy. In addition, sustainably managed production forests such as the development of sustainable palm oil plantations have a higher capacity for carbon dioxide absorption (carbon sinks) than natural forests that are left with a natural climax.

Responding to the end of the palm oil moratorium, Dr. Tungkot Sipayung, Executive Director of PASPI in the Palm O’Corner Webinar at Udayana University, said that the moratorium should not be on oil palm plantations, but on primary forests. With the primary forest moratorium policy, the activity of clearing and utilizing primary forest into other sectors is permanently prohibited so that the existence of primary forest and its biodiversity remains sustainable. The existence of a moratorium policy on oil palm plantation permits actually damages the image of oil palm and sacrifices smallholders because their oil palm plantation legality is not resolved due to the prohibition of granting new permits.

Meanwhile, the response from the side of oil palm plantation business actors represented by the General Secretary of GAPKI, Eddy Martono, revealed that oil palm plantation corporations submitted the decision to extend or terminate the Presidential Instruction to the government. Because corporations prefer to focus on increasing palm oil productivity rather than opening new licenses.

Even though the validity period has passed, the Indonesian Government is currently still conducting a review and analysis of this policy. Let us wait for further action from the Indonesian government to improve governance of the national palm oil industry, including the resolution of various licensing and legal issues, as well as efforts to develop a sustainable palm oil industry, either through the extension of the Presidential Instruction on the moratorium or the re-issuance of new regulations.

Tudingan terhadap minyak sawit dan industri sawit nasional baik dalam bentuk black campaign maupun kebijakan perdagangan negara importir yang diskriminatif semakin intensif dan masif terjadi dalam dua dekade terakhir. Sebagai reaksi atas fenomena tersebut sekaligus dalam rangka memperbaiki citra sawit Indonesia, pemerintah menerbitkan moratorium sawit melalui Instruksi Presiden (Inpres) No. 8 Tahun 2018.

Kebijakan tersebut menjadi sebuah momentum dalam rangka memperbaiki dan meningkatkan tata kelola perkebunan sawit yang berkelanjutan, memberikan kepastian hukum, pembinaan petani sawit serta menjaga dan melindungi kelestarian lingkungan termasuk penurunan emisi Gas Rumah Kaca (GRK). Inpres tersebut memuat 12 instruksi kepada kementerian dan lembaga negara serta pemerintah daerah untuk menghentikan pemberian izin pembukaan perkebunan sawit baru, menyelesaikan masalah perizininan dan tumpang tindih lahan hingga implementasi budidaya sawit yang berkelanjutan melalui peningkatan produktivitas dan ISPO.

moratorium

Pada tanggal 19 September 2021, implementasi kebijakan moratorium perkebunan sawit memasuki tahun ke-3 yang juga sekaligus menandakan berakhirnya masa berlaku Inpres ini. Hal ini tentu saja menimbulkan pertanyaan, apakah pemerintah memperpanjang masa berlakunya Inpres moratorium atau tidak. Pro-kontra terkait kondisi ini juga menjadi perbincangan hangat baik di kalangan stakeholder sawit, akademisi maupun pemerhati lingkungan.

Selama masa berlaku Inpres moratorium, Pemerintah Indonesia sudah menunjukkan komitmennya dalam perbaikan tata kelola perkebunan sawit. Misalnya ditetapkannya One Map melalui Keputusan Menteri Pertanian No. 833/2019 terkait luas tutupan lahan perkebunan sawit Indonesia sebesar 16.38 juta hektar pada tahun 2019 dan penerbitan Perpres 44/2020 terkait penguatan ISPO.

Namun masih banyak pihak seperti Yayasan Madani Berkelanjutan, Greenpeace Indonesia, Sawit Watch, dan Walhi serta asosiasi petani sawit yang tergabung dalam POPSI menilai belum ada kemajuan yang signifikan dari tujuan yang ingin dicapai dalam Inpres sehingga kebijakan moratorium ini harus diteruskan.

Tuntutan diperpanjangnya Inpres moratorium muncul karena masih banyak permasalahan tata kelola yang belum terselesaikan seperti evaluasi izin dan penyelesaian legalitas lahan perkebunan sawit yang terindikasi berada di kawasan hutan. Diperkirakan sekitar 3.4 juta hektar perkebunan sawit berada di dalam kawasan hutan dan 2.78 juta hektar didalamnya merupakan perkebunan sawit rakyat. Diterbitkannya UU Cipta Kerja dan produk hukum turunannya dinilai juga belum mampu menyelesaikan permasalahan legalitas sawit rakyat tersebut, padahal masalah tersebut menjadi kunci atas terealisasikannya program pembangunan perkebunan sawit rakyat yang berkelanjutan melalui PSR dan ISPO.

Implikasi hal tersebut terlihat dari masih rendahnya capaian PSR nasional yang realisasi luas lahan sawit rakyat periode 2016 hingga 31 Agustus 2021 sebesar 230.47 ribu hektar. Sementara itu, capaian ISPO pada perkebunan sawit rakyat (per tanggal 4 Desember 2020) baru sekitar 17 sertifikat atau 0.91 persen dari total luas perkebunan sawit rakyat.

Di lain pihak, Prof. Sudarsono, Guru Besar Fakultas Kehutanan IPB, menyebutkan bahwa moratorium izin perkebunan sawit baru tidak perlu diperpanjang bahkan seharusnya Inpres 8/2018 tidak ada. Hal ini  dikarenakan tata kelola yang seharusnya diperbaiki adalah sektor kehutanan yang berada dibawah kewenangan KLHK. Seharusnya perkebunan sawit yang menjadi sektor produkif dan unggulan bagi ekonomi Indonesia dibela dan dimudahkan perizinannya sebagai upaya untuk meningkatkan kesejahteraan rakyat Indonesia.

Guru besar IPB lainnya, Prof. Yanto dalam Webinar #INAPalmOilTalk juga menyebutkan hal senada bahwa moratorium sawit justru membawa kerugian ekonomi yang besar karena menjadi penghambat bagi industri sawit yang telah menerapkan tata kelola berkelanjutan menjadi sektor strategis bagi perekonomian Indonesia. Selain itu, hutan produksi yang dikelola dengan berkelanjutan seperti pengembangan perkebunan sawit berkelanjutan memiliki kemampuan penyerapan karbon dioksida (carbon sink) lebih tinggi dibandingkan dengan hutan alam yang dibiarkan dengan klimaks alami.

Menanggapi masa berakhirnya moratorium sawit, Dr. Tungkot Sipayung, Direktur Eksekutif PASPI dalam Webinar Palm O’Corner di Universitas Udayana, juga mengemukakan bahwa seharusnya yang dimoratorium bukan perkebunan sawit, tetapi hutan primer. Dengan kebijakan moratorium hutan primer tersebut aktivitas pembukaan dan pemanfaatan hutan primer menjadi sektor lain dilarang secara permanen sehingga keberadaan hutan primer beserta biodiversitas didalamnya tetap lestari. Adanya kebijakan moratorium izin perkebunan sawit justru merusak citra sawit dan mengorbankan petani sawit rakyat karena legalitas perkebunan sawit rakyat tidak terselesaikan akibat pelarangan pemberian izin baru.

Sementara itu, tanggapan dari sisi pelaku usaha perkebunan sawit yang diwakilkan oleh Sekjen GAPKI, Eddy Martono, mengungkapkan bahwa korporasi perkebunan sawit menyerahkan keputusan perpanjangan atau penghentian Inpres kepada pemerintah. Hal ini dikarekan korporasi lebih memilih berfokus pada peningkatan produktivitas sawit daripada pembukaan izin baru.

Meskipun telah lewat masa berlakunya, namun Pemerintah Indonesia saat ini masih melakukan peninjauan dan penelaahan terkait kebijakan moratorium sawit ini. Mari kita tunggu aksi lanjutan dari pemerintah Indonesia dalam rangka memperbaiki tata kelola industri sawit nasional termasuk penyelesaian terhadap berbagai masalah izin dan legalitas serta upaya pembangunan industri sawit yang berkelanjutan, baik melalui perpanjangan Inpres moratorium atau kembali menerbitkan regulasi baru.

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