Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK) assesses palm oil plant most environmentally friendly compared to other types of forest plants. The negative stigma that the oil palm plantations are not environmentally friendly comes from false information and has no scientific research base.
"All the negative stigma comes from unfounded information because of the various studies, it is not proven," said Expert Environment and Forestry Minister Bedjo Santoso as quoted by Antara on Thursday (13/4).
According to him, palm oil is more environmentally friendly compared to forest plant species, for example from the side of water absorption, palm oil is more efficient.
Within a year, the palm oil absorbs 1,104 millimeters of water, less than the sengon plants (1,355), teak (1,300), mahogany (1,500), or pine (1,975).
Meanwhile, from the absorption of carbon dioxide (CO2), palm oil actually absorbs more CO2 than the four forest plants.
Each palm stretch of 1 hectare (ha), he added, can absorb 36 tons of CO2. The amount is higher than the sengon plant which only absorbs CO2 about 18 tons, teak (21 tons), mahogany (25 tons), and pine (20 tons).
"These figures are facts of research done by experts in their fields, this is not the case, so where is the palm oil unfriendly?" said Bedjo.
Bedjo confirmed the misleading information came from western countries whose goal is to protect its commodities, whether it be rapeseed, sunflower, or soybean.
"In fact, palm oil is actually more efficient to use the land compared to the rapeseed, sunflower, and soybean, compared to 1 to 10," he explained.
Similarly, the Expert Staff of the Minister of Agriculture for the Environment Section Mukti Sardjono said the average annual palm oil productivity is around 4.27 ton per hectare (ha) with total land around the world only about 20.23 million ha.
Meanwhile, rapeseed plants that are the mainstay of farmers in Europe productivity every year is only 0.69 tons per ha and has used the land area of ??33.66 million ha.Soybean crops grown in North America and Canada to date have used a land area of ??121.99 million ha and its productivity per year is only 0.45 tons per ha.
For sunflower that is also widely grown in Europe productivity is only 0.52 tons per ha and until 2016 has been using a land area of ??24.69 million ha.
"It means what, oil palm is much more efficient," said Mukti Sardjono.
The productivity of palm oil per ha of land is much higher (8-10 fold) than other vegetable oil productivity. Thus, it is wrong if the European Parliament in its resolution recommends that oil palm crops in Indonesia be replaced with rapeseed and sun flower.
If it is done, he added, it can be ascertained that forest encroachment is more massive, because obviously it needs a wider land. In addition, because both plants are less suitable to be grown in tropical Indonesia.
"So the resolution of the European Parliament is ridiculous, it is clear that it is only to protect its commodities that are not competing with palm oil," he added.
IPB Agricultural Strategic and Policy Studies Director Dodik Ridho Nurrochmat said based on the European Commission's review in 2013, over 20 years there are 239 million ha of deforested land globally.
Of this amount, approximately 58 million ha are deforested due to livestock grazing, 13 million ha due to soybean cultivation, 8 million ha due to maize cultivation, and only 6 million hectares for oil palm plantations.
Thus, according to him, the world's palm oil industry contributes only about 2.5 percent of the total global deforestation. In addition, the palm oil industry is part of a solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to the fulfillment of world demand for biofuels, in lieu of fossil fuels.
"That is, palm oil is very concerned about the environment," said Dodik.
The government, he added, needs to attend and defend the national oil industry, moreover, the people's palm oil plantation has the largest share of 3.8 million ha or 41 percent of the total national oil palm estates reaching 11.3 million ha.Moreover, palm oil has contributed significantly to the national economy. The value of exports in 2016 reached 18.1 billion US dollars, equivalent to 10 percent of the state budget. "Palm is Indonesia's strategic commodity, so we must guard," he concluded.