Palm oil, Indonesia


The reaction of European consumAtors to the denunciation of the horrors associated with the palm oil supply chain has forced palmocrats to persist in their disinformation strategy. Some hard facts about the situation in Indonesia may help to understand the reality.

Palm tops the list of global vegetable oil consumption. 68 million tons in 2015-2016 (61 palm, 7 palm kernel), projected to grow to 71 in 2016-2017 (1)

A figure that is not surprising given the extent of its use in food and cosmetics, personal and household hygiene, and drugs. In addition to industrial uses, and ‘bio’-diesel. (2)

Palm crops, unlike other sources of vegetable oils, require a tropical climate (2000-4000 mm annual rainfall, soils with pH ranging between 4 and 6). This explains why Indonesia and Malaysia are the top two producers (85 percent of global production), with 31.5 (3) and 19 million tons, respectively. Following at a wide distance are Thailand (2.2 mln tons), Colombia (1.2 mln tons), Nigeria (0.93), Papua New Guinea (0.7), Ecuador (0.6), Honduras and Ivory Coast (0.4) Brazil (0.35).

Indonesia-thanks to its tropical climate irradiated by 5-7 hours of sunshine each day-is the global leader in palm oil production. Which contributes about US$20 billion annually to the country’s economy. Indonesia’s export of‘crude palm oil‘ (CPO) reached US$17.8 billion. And his government has planned to increase production by 30 percent to 40 million tons in 2020. Accelerating the devastation of soils in the name of monoculture, which has already increased by 35 percent between 2008 and 2013. (4)

Palm oil production in Indonesia is broken down as follows:

Big Private Plantations (BPP), 52.88 percent. According to Fadhil Hasan, executive director of the‘Indonesian Palm Oil Association,’ the private sector controls palm oil production in the country. 25 giants-including Golden Agri Resources Ltd., Wilmar International Ltd. and the U.S.-based Cargill International Corp. (5)-manage more than half of the plantations. (6)

Smallholder Farmers (SF), 40.49 percent. According to Rizal Ramli, 2 million farmers work plots smaller than 2 hectares (ha),

Big State-Owned Plantations (BSOPs), 6.63 percent.

Tropical forest fires (7) are often blamed on small farmers. Although local sources trace them back to large industrial conglomerates, which thereby obtain huge tracts of arable land at insignificant cost. It takes only 5,000 rupees to hire an arsonist, and following the fires, fertile land can be easily planted. With the help of neurotoxic pesticides capable of exterminating every other source of life.

The social and environmental impact of the‘Palm Oil Business‘ in Indonesia is before the eyes of anyone willing to look beyond their nose:

fires and deforestation are a direct consequence of any expansion of oil palm crops (8),

indigenous civilizations rooted in the tropical rainforest are being taken by violence and deception (so-called land grabbing) from their ancestral places. To whom they have always entrusted their livelihood and life itself (9),

biodiversity is also being devastated, causing the extinction of now rare animal species such as the Sumatran tiger and rhinoceros, Papua Cendrawasih birds, orangutans and elephants,

smoke clouds caused by wildfires have ledIndonesia to the global lead in greenhouse gas emissions, as of 2015. Causing thousands of deaths from poisoning and respiratory diseases. Children and the elderly especially,

social conflicts are exacerbated by new palm plantations. Between the inhabitants of the affected areas and the producing industries, and between them and the workers.

Modern slavery. Actual work is different from work stipulated in contracts, which sometimes do not even exist. Overtime is not paid, and daily pay is bordering on US$5. (10) Not enough to support a family, whose members are therefore all forced to work.

Child labor is a direct consequence of the above. Not surprisingly, Amnesty’s investigations were conducted at plantations that supply Wilmar, the world’s leading palm producer. Enlisted children are children of workers, forced to help their parents to meet production goals and make ends meet. Thus distracted from schools, which moreover do not exist in most areas close to plantations.

Dario Dongo

Thanks to on-site correspondent Ai Haes, for helping to research the news reported


1) Followed by soybeans (51 mln tons in 2015/2016, 53 projected in 2016-2017), canola (28), sunflower (15), peanut (5, projected to grow to 6), cotton (4), coconut and olive (3). Source

2) The consumption ranking is dominated by India, followed by Indonesia, the European Union, China, Malaysia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Thailand, Bangladesh, the U.S.

3) To which is added 3 million tons of palm kernel palm kernel.

4) From 7.4 to 10 million hectares, during 2008-2013. Rahmawati Retno Winarni Source.

5) 21 out of 25 such groups are publicly traded. 11 in Jakarta, 6 in Singapore, 3 in Kuala Lumpur and 1 in London

6) 5.1 million hectares, out of a total of 10, according to the recent report of‘The Transformation Society for Justice Indonesia

7) See video‘Burning Sumatra,’ at

8) See the video

9) Video

10) Source