Refuting Labor Issues, Govt Says 21m People Rely On Palm Oil

JAKARTA — The trade ministry had denied that labor management is still problematic at the palm oil sector, underlining the fact that 21 million people rely on the top commodity of Indonesia.

“Nothing problematic with palm oil workers in Indonesia. In terms of employment, the palm oil sector has been well managed. It directly employs 5.3 million workers, and becomes the source of income for 21 million smallholders and their families,” the trade ministry’s agricultural and forestry product exports director Asep Asmara said during the INAPalmOil Talk Show, which was organized by the Indonesian Palm Oil Association (Gapki) last Wednesday, 31 March 2021.

Asep was commenting on the negative reports on palm oil industry’s employment and environmental issues which were published at the European Union (EU).

“The EU has claimed that the palm oil industry is problematic in terms of environment and health. But in fact, there is no significant problems regarding its employment, environment and healthy condition of palm oil. Economically speaking, the palm oil sector plays a very significant role to the national economy as it directly employs millions of people and contributes the largest export income to the state,” he said.

Amid the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic, which has impacted almost all other economic sector, the palm oil industry has managed to keep its positive growth. Of the total US$154 billion export values of Indonesia’s non-oil-gas exports last year, the palm oil industry contributed USD21 billion or around 19 percent.

Asep noted that Indonesia and Malaysia are the world’s largest producers and exporters of palm oil. Indonesia alone supplies around 56 percent of the global total supply of crude palm oil (CPO).

“Unfortunately, Indonesian palm oil has been very often assaulted with negative campaigns, ranging from issues of environment, to the issues of manpower and to health issues. This is a challenge for all of us to continually improve the image of our palm oil products,” he said. (*)

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