KUALA LUMPUR (August 23 2003) : The newly formed Indonesian Palm OilCommission, defending itself against criticism, said on Friday it had theexpertise needed to provide credible crop and export data.
"We don't make up numbers," Rosediana Sharyo, the commission's head ofday-to-day operations, told Reuters on the sidelines of a palm oil seminarin the Malaysian capital.
"We have sufficient facilities even though we are only a few months old,"she said.
The commission, set up jointly by the government and the private sector,was formed in May to provide data on domestic palm oil production,exports, stocks and consumption.
Its latest estimates showed Indonesia's output would reach 9.6-9.8 milliontonnes this year, up from 9.4 million in 2002. Indonesia is the world'ssecond-largest producer after Malaysia.
Traders in Malaysia welcomed the creation of the Indonesian crop body butmany believed it lacked trained personnel or even funds to collect data ina timely fashion.
Malaysia closely monitors crop developments in Indonesia because the twocountries compete bitterly in the global edible oil markets.
Currently, traders in both countries mostly rely on trade estimates forthe Indonesian crop.
The new Indonesian commission is more or less a copy of the officialMalaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB), which provides monthly crop, end-monthstocks and exports data.
Malaysia has been issuing official crop data for more than 20 years.
A palm oil board will replace the commission within six months of itsinception.
The board will essentially perform the same role but within a legalframework.
Suharto said the commission collected crop data from the director-generalof plantations, the body's own statistics department, the state bureau ofstatistics and the Palm Oil Research Institute.
She said Indonesia's production was unlikely to reach 10 million tonnesthis year because of dry weather in the main growing area on SumatraIsland.
"We believed output can touch 10 million, but there's been a long dryspell," she said.
Suharto believed there would be an upturned in Indonesia's palm oilproduction but said a replanting programme likely to be launched in about3-4 years would put a brake on rising output.
The programme was expected to cut output by 400,000 tonnes while it wason, she said. Suharto gave no further details.
The commission, which reports to the agriculture minister, comprises 11members from various industry groups and nine government officials.
The associations represented include the Indonesian Palm Oil Association(GAPKI), the Palm Oil Growers Association, the Indonesian Edible OilAssociation and the Palm Oil Research Institute.-Reuters