JOURNAL MONITOR EDITION 14 : PALM OIL INDUSTRY: INDONESIA’S ECONOMIC-COVID LOCOMOTIVE DURING THE PANDEMIC AND NEW NORMAL

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Oil palm plantations as the spearhead of the palm oil industry, have proven to be an inclusive economic locomotive. The development of oil palm plantations results in a multiplier effect or creates greater benefits both in the form of output, income, added value and the creation of employment opportunities, not only in oil palm plantations but also in the national economy as a whole. Rifin’s research results (2011) revealed that an increase in palm oil production in oil palm plantations will produce a multiplier effect (output, income, labor and value added) in ten rural sectors outside of oil palm plantations (rural non-farm economy).

Other evidence can also be demonstrated that the existence of oil palm plantations in remote areas will produce an impact and encourage the birth of new sectors so that it transforms remote and backward areas into new economic centers as an agropolitan (new cities of agriculture). According to the Kementerian Transmigrasi dan Tenaga Kerja (2014), by 2013 at least 50 rural and disadvantaged regions were developed into new growth areas whose basis is CPO production. This statement is also confirmed by the World Growth (2011) study, which says that oil palm plantations in Indonesia are an important part of rural development.

The existence of the palm oil industry as the locomotive of the Indonesian economy during the Covid-19 pandemic was also maintained. This is because the palm oil industry naturally has high immunity such as being located in remote areas, implement natural physical distancing and producing products that are needed during the pandemic so that industrial operations from the upstream to downstream sectors continue to operating. So no layoffs in oil palm plantation, palm oil production remains stable and relatively good export performance.

Cumulative exports value of palm oil and its derivatives have contributed to foreign exchange exports in January-May 2020 reached USD 7 billion. The value export of palm oil product able contributed to Indonesia’s trade balance surplus in the first quarter of 2020.

Looking ahead in the New Normal era, it is estimated that an increase in demand for palm oil is used as raw material for downstream products such as biosurfactant products and sources of vitamins and healthy food. The palm oil industry has also prepared itself to remain productive in meeting the demands of the downstream industry while still implementing the health protocol. Oil palm plantation companies have also begin implementing the Oil Palm 4.0 technology package in plantation operations and PKS to improve efficiency, productivity while minimizing interaction between employees as a form of adaptation to Covid-19.

Thus, the large role of the palm oil industry as an economic locomotive in the Covid-19 pandemic and economic recovery in the New Normal era is expected to be able to turn the wheels of the rural and regional economy through the resulting multiplier effect, so able to save the national economic amid the potential of global economic recession due to outbreaks Covid-19.

Perkebunan sawit sebagai ujung tombak dari industri minyak sawit, telah terbukti merupakan lokomotif ekonomi yang inklusif. Perkembangan perkebunan sawit menghasilkan multiplier effect atau menciptakan manfaat yang lebih besar baik dalam bentuk output, pendapatan, nilai tambah dan penciptaan kesempatan kerja, bukan hanya pada perkebunan kelapa sawit tetapi juga dalam perekonomian nasional secara keseluruhan. Penelitian Rifin (2011) mengungkapkan bahwa peningkatan produksi minyak sawit di perkebunan sawit akan menghasilkan multiplier effect (output, pendapatan, tenaga kerja dan nilai tambah) pada sepuluh sektor-sektor pedesaan di luar perkebunan kelapa sawit (rural non-farm economy.

Bukti lainnya juga dapat ditunjukkan dengan adanya perkebunan sawit di suatu daerah pelosok akan menghasilkan dampak dan mendorong lahirnya sektor-sektor baru sehingga mengubah daerah pelosok yang sepi, terbelakang menjadi pusat ekonomi baru sebagai suatu agropolitan (kota-kota baru pertanian). Menurut Kementerian Transmigrasi dan Tenaga Kerja (2014), hinga periode tahun 2013 setidaknya ada 50 kawasan pedesaan terbelakang/terisolir telah berkembang menjadi kawasan pertumbuhan baru dengan basis sentra produksi minyak sawit. Hal tersebut juga terkonfirmasi oleh studi World Growth (2011) yang mengatakan bahwa perkebunan kelapa sawit di Indonesia adalah bagian penting dari pembangunan pedesaan

Eksistensi industri sawit sebagai lokomotif ekonomi Indonesia di masa pandemi Covid-19 juga terjaga. Hal ini dikarenakan industri sawit secara alamiah memiliki imunitas yang tinggi seperti letaknya di pelosok, natural physical distancing dan menghasilkan produk yang dibutuhkan di masa pandemi sehingga operasional industri baik dari sektor hulu hingga hilir tetap berlanjut. Sehingga tidak adanya PHK di industri sawit, produksi minyak sawit tetap stabil dan kinerja ekspor yang relatif baik.

Nilai ekspor minyak sawit dan produk turunannya secara kumulatif periode Januari-April 2020 telah berhasil menyumbang devisa ekspor dengan nilai mencapai USD 7 miliar. Devisa ekspor produk sawit Indonesia juga turut berkontribusi terhadap surplus neraca perdagangan Indonesia pada triwulan I-2020.

Ke depan di era New Normal, diperkirakan terjadi peningkatan demand minyak sawit yang digunakan sebagai bahan baku produk hilir seperti produk biosurfaktan serta sumber vitamin dan makanan sehat. Industri sawit juga telah mempersiapkan dirinya agar tetap produktif memenuhi permintaan industri hilir namun tetap menerapkan protokoler kesehatan. Perusahaan perkebunan sawit juga sudah mulai mengimplementasikan paket teknologi Sawit 4.0 dalam operasional kebun dan PKS untuk meningkatkan efisiensi, produktivitas namun tetap menimalisir interaksi antar pegawai sebagai bentuk adaptasi terhadap Covid-19.

Dengan demikian,  besarnya peran industri minyak sawit sebagai lokomotif ekonomi di tengah pandemi Covid-19 maupun pemulihan di era New Normal diharapkan mampu memutar roda perekonomian desa dan daerah melalui multiplier effect yang dihasilkan sehingga dapat menyelamatkan perekonomian nasional di tengah potensi resesi ekonomi dunia akibat outbreak Covid-19.

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