The palm oil industry has become a strategic commodity and a major contributor of foreign exchange for Indonesia. But very often it has to deal with frequent cases of negative campaigns. It needs, therefore, an appropriate way of communicating the development of oil palm plantations based on real facts.
Tofan Mahdi, a communication practitioner of the palm oil industry, said that the government should actually play more effectively the role of a conductor in designing and implementing a communication strategy of the national palm oil industry.
But Tofan, who is also the communication division chief of the Indonesian Palm Oil Association (GAPKI), said that the media reports on palm oil industry are much better now compared to a decade ago. It is particularly so due to the participation of the public service board (BLU), and the oil palm fund management board (BPDP-KS) in supporting the palm oil communication programs and campaigns.
“Currently, the big palm oil companies have already had their divisions of communication. This is very positive,” said Tofan, who is also Senior Vice President (SVP) for Communication and Public Affair of PT Astra Agro Lestari Tbk, in a written statement received by InfoSAWIT recently.
Meanwhile, Airlangga University’s Economist Imron Mawardi suggested that the positive publication of palm oil should not be only about the success stories of palm oil companies, but also about millions of people who managed to improve their public welfare by developing their own oil palm plantations as smallholders. “Don’t forget, 43 percent of Indonesia’s oil palm plantations are owned by smallholders,” said Imron.
Imron believed that the negative campaigns against the palm oil industry are parts of the trade war. The developed countries, which produce other vegetable oils besides palm oil, have run out of the ways to stop the domination of palm oil in the global market of vegetable oils.