Agriculture minister to go to London to meet NGO`s on oil palm

Jakarta (Antara News) - Agriculture Minister Anton Apriyantono will leave for London, Britain, next weekend, to talk with European non-governmental organizations (NGOs) activists about their negative campaigns on Indonesia's oil palm plantations.

Several West European NGOs had blamed Indonesia's oil palm plantations for environmental degradation, deforestation, decrease in the number of rare fauna, and largely contributing to the global warming, the minister said here on Thursday.

"Next week I will meet British and international media to present a number of views and facts on the national oil palm industry to straighten out some misunderstandings," he said in a gathering attended by members of the Indonesian Palm Oil Council (DMSI).

During his stay in London, he would also hold meetings with several British ministers, especially those in charge of agriculture and international cooperation.

The agriculture minister said that the accusation of European NGOs saying that oil palm plantations in Indonesia were to blamed for the environmental degradation, was just a misunderstanding.

He admitted that there were some irregularities in the opening of oil palm plantations. However, it did not mean that the whole policies on the oil palm industry of the Indonesian government were wrong, he said.

The Indonesian government has issued policies for a sustainable development of oil palm industry for the welfare of the people and without destroying the environment, he said.

The government was committed to the implementation of sustainable development through the Round Table Sustainable Palm Oil Program (RSPO), reduction of CO2 gas emissions, good agriculture practices, and tropical rain forest protection, the minister said.

The minister would also inform European NGOs about the corporate social responsibility program carried out by the country's oil palm plantations which empowered small-and-medium scale industries surrounding the oil palm plantations.

Minister Apriyantono said that Indonesia in cooperation with Malaysia, another major oil palm producer, would launch a long-term 'Sustainable Palm Oil' campaign.

The government has allocated a fund amounting to 500,000 Euros for the campaign.(*)
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