Jakarta Globe (28/08/2019) - Jakarta. Members of the Sekato Jaya Lestari Cooperative, who are partnered with the Wilmar Group, received their Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil, or ISPO, certification on Wednesday, proving that the country's palm oil farmers have the capacity to comply with the sustainability criteria the international community demands.
Joarsa, head of the Sekato Jaya Lestari Cooperative, said during the handover ceremony that the farmers' daily routines have changed to incorporate sustainable practices, since Wilmar introduced the ISPO certification in 2017.
These practices include an integrated farmer guidance program, farmer organization empowerment and the implementation of a tracing program to track palm oil from the plantations to the refinery, among others.
Following the criteria enforced by ISPO, cooperative members are encouraged through training programs to understand and implement sustainable cultivation standards in their daily farming routines. For instance, the program teaches farmers not to cultivate lands that have not been approved by the government, and not to use environmentally harmful methods, as well as teaching them how to select the best seeds and how to fertilize efficiently.
"Up until now, the farmers only understood how to produce healthy fruits, harvest and then sell them. With the ISPO criteria, we are more aware of the legalities and know which lands are off-limits," Joarsa said.
"With the ISPO certification, we can move forward confidently, because we know our operations are up to [international] standards," he added.
The cooperative, located in Siak district, Riau, currently manages 450,000 hectares under the "other-use area" status, or APL. The land is managed through the Community Economic Empowerment program initiated by the Siak district government. It involves 228 workers, each with the right to manage 1,93 hectares.
Husni Merza, director of Permodalan Siak (Persi), explained on the occasion that they have helped provide guidance on plantation management and assisted in arranging finance for members of the Sekato Jaya Lestari Cooperative.
"There are many farmers who are not yet 'bankable' and we aim to help them as well," he said.
Persi has so far donated almost Rp 18 billion ($1.26 million) – or about Rp 40 million per hectare. The money is used to manage the land after it has been cleared. Persi also assists with administration and marketing.
"We also have additional programs outside of those we mentioned, such as funding for fertilizer and vehicles," Husni added.
Rismansyah Danasputra, director of Mutu Indonesia Strategis Berkelanjutan, added that the audit process for the Sekato Jaya Lestari Cooperative went smoothly and that it was completed within two months. He expressed hope that many more farming cooperatives would obtain ISPO certification.
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