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Government Sanctioned Oil Palm Replanting Program Faces Hurdles

The government admits replanting program a bit sluggish this year
Government Sanctioned Oil Palm Replanting Program Faces Hurdles

JAMBI - As many as 18,000 hectares of palm oil plantations in Indonesia's Jambi province is set to be replanted this year through the smallholder oil palm plantation replanting, or PSR, program. This program is supported by the Palm Oil Plantation Fund Management Agency, or BPDP-KS in the Jambi chapter.

However, according to the palm oil farmers association, this program is not without its obstacles. Of the planned 18,000 hectares of plantation to be replanted, just around 6,000 ha have been submitted to the government for approvals to get the needed funding for replanting. 

Jambi is home to palm oil plantations which were previously part of the Nucleus Estate-Smallholders for Transmigration, or known locally as Perkebunan Inti Rakyat (PIR), and is now the government’s area of focus for replanting.

Jambi harbors many PIRs that are spread across in at least seven of the province's districts. Of course, due to the age of the plants, they need replanting to produce better crops.

"The Indonesian PIR Palm Oil Farmers Association (ASPEKPIR) Jambi Branch can encourage PIR farmers, whose plantations need replanting. They can participate in the program," Head of the Jambi Plantation Service, Agurizal said at the Technical Meeting for the acceleration of the smallholder oil palm plantation replanting program on Wednesday, June 30, 2021.

The 18,000 hectares of plantation that will be replanted are spread into Batang Hari district (1,500 Ha), Bungo (1,500 Ha), Merangin (4,000 Ha), Muaro Jambi (4,000 Ha), Sarolangun (1,000 Ha), Tanjung Jabung Barat (4,000 Ha), Tebo (1,000 Ha) and Tanjung Jabung Timur (1,000 ha).

Government off to a slow start

Heru Tri Widarto, the Director of Perennial Crops and Beverages, General Director of Estate Crops at Ministry of Agriculture stated that this year the smallholder oil palm plantation replanting program was a bit sluggish compared to last year because audit results from the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) spooked local government officials from proceeding with the program.

According to Heru, ASPEKPIR needs to help accompany their members, with support from both central as well as regional administrators, so that the government's ambitious oil palm replanting program targets can be achieved.

Spreading information is not cheap

The Chairman of ASPEPKIR Jambi Indonesia, Roy Asnawi said that the management of ASPEKPIR Jambi had been moving to disseminate information to the community, so far at their own expense.

For example, what has been done by Suswiyanto, the administrator of ASPEPKIR Jambi together with Ali Murthada from ASPEKPIR Muaro Jambi.

In Muaro Jambi in 2020, ASPEKPIR has submitted data for a total area of 3,080.93 ha managed by 1,549 planters. So far, the funding they received for the replanting program is only enough to cover 624.22 ha of plantations managed by 287 planters.

Currently, referring to information from ASPEKPIR, coordinate points are being taken for a land area of 209.26 ha covering 83 planters, and the coordinate points for which have not been taken are 1,668.3 ha covering 200 families, currently in the institutional process there are 579 ha covering 267 families.

There are 18 oil palm farmer institutions, including cooperatives, KUD, Gapoktan and Poktan.

Farmers need to eat too

Ali Murthada said that spreading the word was not easy, especially when they asked what to eat during the replanting process, implying that the replanting process would strip them of their main source of income until the plants are ready to be harvested. 

ASPEKPIR, he said, is not prepared to run community programs to compensate farmers' income loss during the replanting time. The local community has been asking for some local community empowerment programs like poultry farming, and catfish farmings. 

Meanwhile, Noval from ASPEKPIR in Tebo district said that the main problem faced before they can proceed with the government's replanting program was the long and windy administrative process. He said members of the association have been facing problems of lack of documents for one year. (T2)