DUBAI. UAE. Sahat M Sinaga, the Chairman of Indonesia Palm Oil Board in an interview with Ritu Kant Ojha, shares the journey of how Indonesia because leading producer of palm oil, the response to the backlash on palm oil production impacting the environment and the changes Indonesia has introduced to counter the impact. Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil that comes from the fruit of oil palm trees. Two types of oil can be produced; crude palm oil comes from squeezing the fleshy fruit, and palm kernel oil which comes from crushing the kernel, or the stone in the middle of the fruit. Palm oil trees are native to Africa but were brought to South-East Asia just over 100 years ago as an ornamental tree crop. Now, Indonesia and Malaysia make up over 85% of global supply. Sinaga talks about the journey of Indonesia becoming the world’s dominant producer of palm oil and the reason behind its popularity. Palm oil is in nearly everything – it is in about 50% of the packaged products we find in supermarkets, everything from pizza, doughnuts and chocolate, to deodorant, shampoo, toothpaste and lipstick. It’s also used in animal feed and as a biofuel in many parts of the world.
Sinaga explains, given the massive dependence of various industries on palm oil across United States, Europe, China and India, and the backlash palm oil industry is facing for the last 20 years because of its impact of rainforests, what is his assessment as the chairman of the palm oil board – what is the future of palm oil producers and the sectors dependent on it. Various NGOs have heavily criticised the impact of palm oil production on the environment – the deforestation, burning of the rainforest etc. He shares some of the concrete and measurable initiatives the Board has taken to make the palm oil more sustainable.