Thursday, 5 November 2009

Malaysian, Indonesian palm growers withdraw objection to GHG criteria

Published: 2009/11/05 Business Times

MALAYSIAN and Indonesian oil palm growers yesterday withdrew their objection to the introduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) criteria under the production certification standards by the Roundtable on Sutainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

The criteria prevent growers from planting methods that will release GHG into the environment. Planting on peat land, for example, will do this.

The Malaysian Palm Oil Association (MPOA) and its Indonesian counterpart GAPKI (Gabungan Pekebun Kecil Indonesia) which initially showed signs of leaving the RSPO on news GHG would be made mandatory, yesterday withdrew their resolution.

Gapkis' representative to the RSPO Derom Bangun said during the seven-hour long meeting on Sunday, the board reached a compromise on making the GHG rule voluntary.

The disgruntled groups were also encouraged with the setting up of another working group to find a more acceptable conclusion at the eighth RSPO meeting in Jogjakarta next year.

The seventh RSPO meeting held in Kuala Lumpur which ended yesterday, was attended by over 800 participants which included producers, processors, traders, manufacturers, retailers, consumers, financial institutions and environmentalists.

Plantation companies are expected to be the first to volunteer for the criteria and this includes United Plantations Bhd, the first Malaysian company to be certified under the RSPO's stringent standards last year.

"It is important for the industry players to embrace the initiative which will mitigate global warming," said its vice chairman Datuk Carl Bek-Nielsen.

"There must, however, be a level playing field involving all the industries, not just palm oil. No one should be discriminated against (in the standards) and we must also be aware of our social responsibilities," he added.

Meanwhile, South American and African oil palm producers, who form the Rest of the World RSPO chapter, said yesterday that they want to be the first participants of the proposed GHG voluntary scheme.

"As an immediate measure, we will not develop new plantings on peat lands. This is necessary to reflect the gravity of the situation," said their spokesperson Agropalma director Marcelo Brito.