Indonesia seeks Vatican help to overturn EU palm oil ban

palm oil

The Vatican will be facilitating a palm oil seminar to be held by Indonesia in the Pontifical University.

The seminar, to be held in May, is a response to the European Union’s (EU) proposed ban.

Representatives from the EU, multi-national companies using palm oil products, farmers from Indonesia and Malaysia, and religious institutions would be invited to attend.

Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs, met Pope Francis and Vatican officials last month to discuss the issue.

In an official statement after the meeting, Panjaitan said that Cardinal Peter Turkson, Director of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. had voiced “concern over the fate of oil palm farmers and millions of people whose lives depend on the palm oil industry.”

Marcellinus Andry from Indonesia’s Palm Oil Farmers Union said they wrote to the EU asking for a review of the ban.

“Palm oil has been a key source of income for millions of farmers who will be affected,” he said.

But indigenous and other communities who are negatively affected by the plantations urge the EU to tighten supply chain controls to prevent damage to their land, rights and the environment.

Franky Samperante, a founder of the indigenous peoples’ organisation Pusaka, said the Indonesian government had granted concessions to more than 50 companies to open plantations on 1.2m hectares of land claimed by local communities.

Last year Indonesia exported a total of 28 million tonnes of palm oil, valued at US$23 billion, 40 percent of which went to Europe for conversion into biofuels.

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News category: Asia Pacific.