Resolving Land Status to Boost ISPO Certification

FEBRUARY 25,2021

Medan - Since 2011Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) Certification has been established through Minister of Agriculture (MoA) Regulation Nr 19/Permentan/OT.140/3/2011To strengthen this regulation, the Government of Indonesia had issued a series of regulations through the MoA Regulation Nr 11/2015 on the ISPO Certification System and has been recently perfected by Presidential Regulation Nr 44/2020 on Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil Certification System.


To regulate the implementation of the presidential regulation, Minister of Agriculture issued Regulation Nr 38/2020 regarding the Implementation of Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil Certification that oversee the ISPO certification in the field.


Furthermore, to strengthen the ISPO certification process, the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs (CMEA) has issued the CMEA Regulation Nr 10/2020 on the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil Steering Committee Organization and Work Procedure and the CMEA Decree Nr 257/2020 on Committee for Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil.


In line with the policy to improve the competitiveness of Indonesian palm oil products in international market, the Governor of North Sumatra has issued Governor Regulation Nr 14/2020 on North Sumatra Provincial Action Plan for Sustainable Palm Oil 2020 -2024 (RAP KSB Sumut) as a follow-up for the Presidential Instruction Nr 6/2019 on National Action Plan for Sustainable Oil Palm Plantations 2019 - 2024 (NAP SPO), which one of the prioritized activities is acceleration of ISPO and market access for palm oil products as stated in Component E.


Nevertheless, field implementation of ISPO Certification still faces various challenges to comply with the ISPO principles and criteria. Land legality and ownership status are still the main challenges causing the rather small number of ISPO certification for independent smallholders, including those in North Sumatra. Based on the previous meetings of North Sumatra Provincial Action Plan, the frequently mentioned cause of these constraints is that there are oil palm plantations indicated in forest areas.


Responding to these challenges, and as an effort to accelerate ISPO certification, SPOI - UNDP facilitated a Focus Group Discussion (FGD) focusing on the issue of ‘settlement of land disputes for oil palm plantation in North Sumatra', on 4 February 2021 in Medan. 


The FGD was held in collaboration with North Sumatra Plantation Office by using online Zoom and involving palm oil stakeholders in the province such as government office, smallholders association, private sectors, academics, CSO and certification bodies who are members of Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil Forum (FoKSBI). Additionally, representatives from national government are involved as a resource person related to settlement regulations.


CMEA Representatives, Edwin Mahatir, stated his appreciation to all North Sumatra multi-stakeholders for raising the issue on land legality status which has been a dispute in palm oil sector. "The management and governance of plantation sector including the land status has been incorporated in the national government agenda since palm oil has been the biggest Indonesian export commodity and North Sumatra has contributed at least 14.9% of national Crude Palm Oil (CPO). This commitment is stated in the Moratorium of Presidential Instruction Nr 8/2018, Presidential Instruction on NAP SPO Nr 6/2019 and Presidential Regulation on ISPO Certification Nr 44/2020 ", said Edwin.


The Head of North Sumatra Estate Crops Office, who also chairs the North Sumatra FoKSBI - Nazli, said that the challenge in the clean and clear process of oil palm independent smallholder’s land were still related to operational funds, while for large business actors, the main challenge is the regulatory base for the resolution.


In the discussion, representative of Ministry of Agriculture, Dedi Junaedi confirmed that the biggest challenge in implementing ISPO certification is still related to the legality of land both in areas for other uses (APL) and those indicated in forest areas. There would be some options of resolving the land status for companies and independent smallholders within the draft of government regulation on the Law of Job Creation, including those in forestry and plantation sector.


The Oil Palm Plantation Fund Management Agency (BPDPKS) has budgeted the oil palm rejuvenation programme for a total land area of 180 thousand hectares, where about 20 thousand hectares of which are allocated in North Sumatra. The verification component included in this programme can be utilized to support ISPO certification. This allocation must be utilized as well as possible for areas where cases of overlapping land can be resolved", Dedi added.


North Sumatra FoKSBI Expert Team – Herawati, reiterated that the Cultivation Registration Letter (STD-B) needs to be realized as an indicator of the existence of smallholders' land and proof of “amnesty” before the Job Creation Law’s implementing regulation is issued.


Apkasindo representative, Gus Dalhari Harahap, stated that he is also to carry out ISPO certification as long as the main issues including the legality of the smallholders' land are resolved. 


In North Sumatra, at least 300 thousand hectares of land are indicated in the forest area. "The draft regulation stated that the forest refers to a definitive area, meanwhile palm oil smallholder’s area is indicated in forest areas that are still in the appointment status, meaning that that the forest boundary setting have not been completed. It is expected that the demarcation of forest areas in North Sumatra can be settled so that the forest area can be ensured. It is expected as well that the Law of Job Creation remains in favor to the smallholders", Gus Dalhari said.


Representatives of Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Christiano Ginting assured the participants that the spirit of Job Creation Law and its implementing regulations are to resolve the status of oil palm plantations indicated in forest areas. The problem shall be resolved using several options which are: to accommodate, to accommodate with fines, to accommodate with conservation, and sanctions.


Closing the event, Nazli, reiterate that preparations to resolve settling land legality needs to be done by mapping regulatory arrangements and following up according to its respective authority. Multi - stakeholder collaboration is the key to the success of ISPO Certification and to achieve the 70% certified palm oil production target by 2024 as stated in Governor Regulation No 14/2020.



Writing by : Megi Wahyuni