February 17, 2011


US NGO backs Indonesian palm oil sector



An American non-governmental organisation (NGO) has defended Indonesia's palm oil industry, saying it contributes to the country's and world's economic growth and food security.


World Growth, a pro-development NGO, said Tuesday (Feb 15) efforts to restrict land conversion by environmental non-governmental organisations (NGO) and international institutions "risk undermining economic growth in Indonesia and global food security."


The report assesses the palm oil industry, addresses the benefits and challenges facing the industry, and examines the role the industry has played in Indonesia's economic growth and development.


World Growth Chairman, and former Ambassador to and Chairman of the GATT (the predecessor to the World Trade Organization), Alan Oxley, said, "There has been a sustained effort to limit the ability of developing countries to expand agriculture. It is driven by the wrong headed belief that freezing production of palm oil and other commodities enhances sustainability.


The call is for measures which restrict and control trade and production of vital food stuffs. These are advanced by NGOs, some Western governments, international agencies, and even multinational corporations.


It will just stall food production and undermine strategies to reduce poverty.


Taking Indonesia as an example, he said the palm oil industry supports directly and indirectly nearly 20 million Indonesians and produces exports worth over US$6.5 billion. Millions more in Indonesia and throughout the world will benefit from future development of palm oil plantations. With the world population expected to reach nine billion by 2050, and palm oil a food staple, the Indonesian palm oil industry should not be limited but encouraged to expand.


"Nevertheless, NGOs continue to engage in smear campaigns against the industry, with misleading information about environmental impacts and efforts to obstruct development. Their ideological opposition to economic growth is dangerous for the poor and hungry," Oxley said.


"Even the World Bank, which acknowledges that agriculture development is three times more effective for achieving economic growth than any other sector, is weighing a policy to restrict financial support for expansion of palm oil in direct contravention of its anti-poverty mandate. Expansion of palm oil production will increase growth and reduce poverty in Indonesia and enhance global food security," Oxley added.


World Growth is a non-profit, non-governmental organisation established to expand the research, information, advocacy, and other resources to improve the economic conditions and living standards in developing and transitional countries.