The palm oil industry has become the lifeline of national economy. The Indonesia’s top commodity has become the source of income for around 50 million people across the country. It has also helped reduce the current account deficit, which has been haunting the national economy for the last few years.

Joko Supriyono, The Chairman of Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association (GAPKI), said that the palm oil industry has become the most productive one in contributing to Indonesia’s foreign exchange. Last year, the palm oil exports contributed around US$22.9 billion or almost Rp300 trillion in foreign exchange income.

“What’s needed by this country is to develop industries that able to provide job opportunities and earn a big amount of foreign exchange. In this case, the palm oil is the answer,” said Joko Supriyono.

Based on data from GAPKI, the foreign exchange earnings from palm oil have been increasing from year to year. In 2017, the foreign exchange from palm oil reached US$22.7 billion, higher than US$18.22 billion in the previous year.

In terms of employment, it is estimated that 50 million of Indonesian people rely on the palm oil industry. They consist of 17 million directly or indirectly employed in the sector from upstream to downstream sectors. Assuming that those 17 million people are heads of families with one wife and two children each, then around 51 million people rely on the palm oil industry.

Separately, Manpower Minister M. Hanif Dhakiri admitted that the palm oil industry has employed workers in great amount. “We, therefore, will help the palm oil sector to develop so that it can become more reliable and contribute more to the national economy,” he said.

There is no denying that the palm oil sector, from upstream to downstream sectors, has become the mainstay of national economy in facing the current global pressures. The exports of palm oil will save the trade balance from the threat of rising deficit.

Joko said that with the superior character of the industry, the oil palm industry should be further pushed to continually increase exports. “We need to strengthen the industries that can reduce the trade balance deficit,” he said.

Musdhalifah Machmud, Deputy in charge of food and agriculture coordination at the economic coordinating ministry, said that the government is strongly committed to proving that the palm oil industry acts as the driver and protector of the nature with high conservation value and high carbon reserve. The problem is the palm oil development has been hindered by the black campaigns from developed countries (European Union and the US).

GAPKI Deputy Chairman Togar Sitanggang said that the government should work hard to protect the palm oil industry from the black campaigns in countries of export destinations, like those in Europe. (*)



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