Indonesia: Peat congress opens with call for further research into peatland

Bambang Nurbianto The Jakarta Post 16 Aug 16;

The 15th International Peat Congress was opened on Tuesday in Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia, by Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan bin Haji Satem with a call for sustainable development and further research into better peatland management.

“The challenge we face today is that tropical peatland, as compared to other soil types, is still quite an understudied soil,” said Adenan in his opening remarks, adding that this had sparked the wrong conclusion that the development of plantations on peatland soil was not recommended.

He criticized a negative campaign around the development of peatland into agricultural areas, saying the campaign had political motives to prevent the expansion of palm oil plantations that competed with other nabati oil-like sunflower oil and soya bean oil plantations, mostly developed in European countries and the US.

Indonesia and Malaysia are the largest producers of palm oil. Last year, Indonesia produced some 33 million tons, while Malaysia produced some 20 million tons.

The peat congress is attended by some 1,000 participants from 30 countries and will take place from Tuesday to Thursday.

Meanwhile, Indonesian Palm Oil Association (GAPKI) chairman Joko Supriyono stressed that Indonesia and Malaysia needed to jointly cooperate to convince the world that developing palm oil plantations on peatland soil could be carried out sustainably.

He also called on the Indonesian government to revise the moratorium on palm oil plantations on peatland so that Indonesian could share in the growing demand for nabati oil.

Indonesian has 14.6 million hectares of peatland, but only 1.6 million hectares have been cultivated. (bbn)

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