Representatives from the European Union (EU), the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Hungary, England, Ireland, Spain, and Sweden, and FAO observed the Indonesia’s sustainable palm oil management process in Riau from 8 to 9 May 2019. The visit took place at the sustainable palm oil plantation of Association of Self-Support Farmer Group (ATKS) Amanah and PT Perkebunan Nusantara V (PTPN V).

The program intends to facilitate the meeting between Indonesian sustainable palm oil stakeholders and EU. The visit of EU Representatives to Riau was facilitated by Directorate for American and European Intra and Inter-Regional Cooperation. It was part of the implementation of National Priority Projects (ProPN) through Economic Diplomacy towards Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) Recognition in EU.

The participants gathered and discussed along with the self-support and plasma farmers from ATKS Amanah, KUD Bukit Potalo, Dayo Mukti Village Unit Cooperative, and Tani Sejahtera Village Unit Cooperative; the policy makers from Ministry of Agriculture, ISPO Commission, and Provincial and Regency Plantation Agency; business players, including Asian Agri and PTPN V, Unilever; and NGOs representatives from UNDP Indonesia and World Resource Institute (WRI) Indonesia.

The discussion is expected to communicate the different points of view among those parties related to ISPO. The program is also designed to persuade the EU Representatives to directly observe Indonesian small-scale farmers’ ability to fulfill the sustainability standard in accordance with ISPO.

The farmers shared their experiences about their fertilization systems and the use of natural pesticides based on the ISPO standard that had successfully increased their productivity and income. They stated that ISPO helps them dealing with poverty; they acquire adequate capacity building and there is middlemen eradication in the marketing of their palm oil production.

Aligned with the farmers, the Head of Secretary of ISPO Commission Azis Hidayat stated that EU would encourage the farmers’ involvement in the ISPO scheme, since the Indonesian palm oil plantation was placed as a vital part of people’s economy.

A party plays as the famers’ facilitator, UNDP Indonesia, stated that UNDP together with Asian Agri facilitate ATKS Amanah and Bukit Potalo Village Unit Cooperative. The farmers have also understood the urgency of sustainability principles in palm oil production. To encourage the increase of palm oil production, Director of Plantation Product Management and Marketing from the Ministry of Agriculture claimed that the ISPO enhancement, through the Presidential Regulation, will boost the sustainable palm oil production in Indonesia; by, among others, replanting supports for the farmers.

The EU Representatives admitted that Indonesia had reached numerous improvements in their sustainable palm oil production management. They believed that the positive lead shall be maintain for further decades. The Director of American and European Intra and Inter-Regional Cooperation, Masni Eriza, expected that EU and Indonesia would further discuss their continuous efforts in improving ISPO, in order to open the marketability of ISPO in all EU countries purchasing Indonesian palm oil.​​