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Aceh’s palm oil road map aims to increase production, while protecting forests
calendar28-11-2023 | linkThe Jakarta Post | Share This Post:

28.11.2023 (The Jakarta Post) - The Aceh provincial administration has launched a road map that aims to deliver a strategy and policy framework that will guide the province to achieve sustainable palm oil production. Named the Aceh Road Map for Sustainable Palm Oil Development (Aceh SPO road map), the road map aims to increase production but at the same time reduce deforestation.

The road map, launched during the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Roundtable Conference on Nov. 22, aligns with the province’s Green Growth Plan, which was initiated by the Aceh administration in 2020 to support the province in producing sustainable commodities while protecting natural forests.

According to the road map, the province’s sustainable palm oil production target will be channeled through various approaches, such as intensification and regenerative agriculture, and restoration, which is expected to optimize landscape functions and reduce deforestation. Additionally, high conservation value (HCV) areas, especially production areas, will be conserved, and communities will be thoroughly involved to ensure inclusivity.

However, there are several issues that pose a challenge for Aceh in achieving sustainable palm oil production. As stated in the road map, these issues relate to governance, such as a farmer database and palm oil revenue; production, such as productivity and certification of farmers; and supply chain, including infrastructure, logistics and the gap between supply and demand.

Other issues include land and social conflicts, such as the conflict between concessions and indigenous people, and financing, such as innovative financing for sustainable palm oil.

To overcome these issues, the road map states that the province will develop improved governance in terms of land and production, establish multi-stakeholder partnerships, and develop sustainable financing and investment, which includes green investment in downstream sectors.

With the majority of production in Aceh by smallholders, the Aceh SPO road map is a necessity for a province that is home to a natural ecosystem considered the last frontier for biodiversity conservation, functioning as one of the main production hubs for key commodities connected to the global market, including cocoa, arabica coffee and palm oil.

The Aceh SPO road map was developed collaboratively, involving participation from the government, private sector and civil society organizations that support the sustainability of palm oil development in Aceh.

Furthermore, the road map also received the support of the Office of the Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, which stated that it is part of the national target of getting 1 million palm oil smallholders to be Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) certified by 2025.

“The Indonesian government is committed to accelerating the implementation of ISPO certification and making it a priority to respond to the continuously increasing global market demand. The steps taken by Aceh province through this formulated policy road map will expedite the implementation of ISPO certification and enhance the availability of sustainable Indonesian palm oil and derivatives in the global market”, said Musdalifah Machmud, expert staff for connectivity, services, and natural resources at the Office of the Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs.

The Aceh SPO road map was developed following Aceh Tamiang regency’s recent success in getting 2,200 of its palm oil smallholders certified under both ISPO and RSPO certification. The Aceh government plans replicate the certification success of Aceh Tamiang smallhoders in 13 other regencies in the province.

The success of Aceh Tamang smallholders’ certification is a result of an advocacy process involving various stakeholders, grouped in Aceh Tamiang’s Center of Excellence for Sustainable Agriculture (PUPL). The PUPL, initiated by Yayasan Inisiatif Dagang Hijau (IDH) Indonesia, along with its supporting partners Forum Konservasi Leuser (FKL) and Lingkar Temu Kabupaten Lestari (LTKL), is comprised of representatives from the local government, the private sector, smallholders and civil society organizations.

It is this multi-stakeholder collaboration that has played a crucial role in the success of Aceh Tamiang’s smallholder groups, supporting them in terms of capacity development, legality compliance and certification auditing.

According to IDH Indonesia, such multi-stakeholder collaboration and long-term commitment are required by Aceh province to achieve the objectives outlined in the Aceh SPO road map.

“The IDH, together with supporting partners FKL, LTKL, YEL [Yayasan Ekosistem Lestari], and the private sector, have developed a multi-stakeholder partnership with the government to manifest the vision for sustainable development in Aceh, which is described through the sustainable palm oil road map,” said IDH Indonesia country director Nassat Idris in his opening speech at the Aceh SPO road map launch in Hotel Mulia Senayan.

“The SPO road map has provided a framework, opportunities for cooperation and synergies of various supporting policies to achieve the vision of sustainable production, protection and inclusion,” Nassat continued.

To support the Aceh SPO road map, Nassat said the IDH is committed to developing a platform, much like the PUPL in Aceh Tamiang, to accommodate multi-stakeholder collaboration across Aceh province. According to the organization, the stakeholders’ participation will be supported by a monitoring, evaluation and grievance system, which could guarantee the production of sustainable products, subsequently leading to an expanding market demand for sustainability in Aceh.

Unveiled at the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Roundtable Conference 2023 in Jakarta, the Aceh SPO road map launch saw the attendance of Aceh Tamiang RSPO smallholders, private sector RSPO members, civil society representatives and officials from the Aceh provincial government and regional governments of Aceh Tamiang, Aceh Timur, Aceh Singkil, Subulussalam, Aceh Selatan and Aceh Tenggara. The event also drew the attendance of representatives from European countries and donor institutions.

This article is written in partnership with Tenggara Strategics