WARSI Supports the Moratorium on Oil Palm Plantations

Opportunity for ecological, tenure and economic improvements

Opportunity for ecological, tenure and economic improvements

The Indonesian Conservation Community (KKI) WARSI enthusiastically welcomed the presidential decree no. 8/2018 on Procrastination and Evaluation of License and Productivity Improvement of Palm Plantation. The director of KKI WARSI, Rudi Syaf stated that the decree is as an opportunity as well as momentum to improve the management and conflict resolution between locals and companies. Most of oil palm plantation area in Jambi Province once was the forest which has already been converted. Yet, the deliverance of this area did not take the marginal tribes (SAM) living within into account.

“In fact, the existence of oil palm plantation in a big scale of tenure has raised a conflict with the community and marginal tribes,” said Rudi Syaf.

WARSI noted that there are 441 households of Orang Rimba in Jambi Province, a marginal tribes dwelling in oil palm plantations, PT Sari Aditya Loka, Astra Group in Merangin and Sarolangun Districts, PT Bahana Karya Semesta (SMART) in Sarolangun District, PT Kresna Duta Agroindo (SMART) in Sarolangun District, PT Sawit Harum Makmur, Citra Sawit Harum (Harum Group) in Bungo District and PT Satya Kisma Usaha (SMART) in Bungo District.

“They are in the palm oil plantation, because of their ancestors who have been living in the area from long time ago, and no conflict resolution made up to now, the Orang Rimba lives in torture within the plantation,” said Rudi Syaf.

Rudi added that the life of the Orang Rimba under the oil palm plantation is so marginal without any certainty for the future. They are doubt as to whether they can manage their land for a better future life. Therefore, this moratorium is expected to be an instrument to accelerate the agrarian reform focusing on marginal tribes (SAM). Referring to the fourth instruction directed to the Indonesian Ministry of Agrarian Affairs and Spatial Planning/National Land Agency, an acceleration on right recognition over the locals’ land to execute the locals’ right over 20% (20 per hundred) of forest area deliverance and oil palm plantation. “we hope that, the indigenous people living within the area can be a major priority as one beneficiary group as what the Indonesian president has pointed out.” Said Rudi.

Ecological Restoration

In addition to the information above, Rudi thinks that the moratorium of oil palm plantation is also crucial to restore the ecology and land use. The oil palm expansion of has already reached high level at the moment. All the non-forest state areas relatively are the areas managed by the locals and can no longer be used. This happens due to most of the non-forest state areas have already been converted into oil palm companies either with partnership scheme or buy and sell.  “We observed that many of the societies accept the partnership scheme given by the company, yet, in fact, the benefit the communities got is far from what they have expected,” said Rudi.

Rudi said, that the community of Batu Kerbau Village, Bungo District were been persuaded by the partnership scheme. When more than 6,000 non-forest state areas around the village were converted into oil palm plantations in 2008, bringing about various promises of profit, yet, in fact, the community did not get any benefits as promised. Instead, an ecological disaster happened due to land conversion from rubber agroforest into oil palm. Since the last few years Batu Kerbau Village has often been hit by flash floods when the rainy season arrives.

Rudi said that oil palm in a big and massive scale is not only harmful to the ecosystem but also invites danger to the economic resilience of the palm oil farmers themselves. "You can see today that when the price of palm oil fell, the economic movement of the people also comes to be weaker," said Rudi.

Rudi added that because of the massive expansion of palm oil, it has reached out the peat areas. "As a result, people open the peatland area for plantations by chopping peatland into the canals, so it would invite land fires during the dry season easily," said Rudi.

Therefore, the implementation of the moratorium must be supported and monitored together to bring benefits to solve various ecological, tenure and economic issues in the community.

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