Despite of lacking knowledge, a group of Catholic sisters has managed to operate an oil palm plantation at the size of 80 hectares. They use their oil palm plantation’s earning to finance their missionary jobs and social services in education and health.
“Oil palm finances our activities. Our mission is not for business. But we do it to finance our social activities to provide health and education services for the public,” said Sister Loly Fianti Manalu, a Catholic nun living in Kampar regency, Riau province, in the middle of September 2018.
She said that the oil palm plantation has been managed by sisters of her congregation since 1996. Its location is around Indahkiat St. Francis of Assisi church, which is part of the FCJM congregation (Franciscanae Filiae Sanctissimae Cordis Jesus et Mariae). The church is located in Pantai Cermin village of Tapung district in Kampar regency of Riau province.
Due to their lack of knowledge, the condition of the plantation was not well maintained. “We operate the plantation, not for business. So, we just grow,” said Sister Loly.
Every month, the plantation produces average 100 tons. But actually, the produces were up and down. From their harvests, they earn around Rp100 million per month. “It’s just our total sales, as we haven’t yet calculated our operational costs. So, our income is not certain at that amount,” Sister Loly said.
According to her, the income from oil palm is used to finance their social activities. The sisters are reluctant to beg money from the public. There is contribution from the congregation, but not enough. There are many activities that have to be financed. Among them are the orphanage in Pematang Siantar, North Sumatra and Timor Leste, disabled people rehabilitation hospital in Pematang Siantar, Atambua, and Nias.
In addition, the fund from oil palm is also used to finance education of the sisters, and for their social security, especially those already old ones. “Where can we get money for all those needs? That’s why we opened the palm oil plantation. No fund to be owned within the personal account of sisters,” said the native of North Tapanuli in North Sumatra.
Personally, Sister Loly experienced the positive impact of palm oil for the church and the public. The oil palm plantation also created job opportunities. “I’m surprised to hear that there are people who say palm oil causes people to suffer. I see this palm oil really support the life of many people. With palm oil we can jointly support life economically and environmentally. Perhaps, not perfect 100 percent. But the fact is that many people got help from the oil, palm,” said the graduate of the Catholic University of St Thomas in Medan.