INDONESIA: Business groups oppose plantation bill

The bill, a revision to the 2004 Plantation Law, comprises restrictions on foreign ownership and the scope of plantation areas, stipulates punishment for land burning and encourages more local engagement. The House expects to pass the bill later this month.

While appreciating some key points of the bill, such as the foreign ownership restriction, Indonesian Rubber Producers Association (Gapkindo) chairman Daud Husni Bastari raised his objections, particularly with regard to the bill's weak support for small holders and lack of measures to mainstream the smallholder-based perspective in plantation management.

"What we need is land reform, which the bill still lacks. We also don't see that the bill sufficiently sides with smallholders who should play a dominant role in managing plantations,” he said.

Smallholders represent around 85 % of rubber growers in Indonesia, which is the world's second-largest natural rubber producer after Thailand.  

Daud further said that the bill should have provided a specific land arrangement for smallholders the way Malaysia did with its authority for smallholders, the Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (RISDA).

Source: Daily "The Jakarta Post, Jakarta; 12 Sept 2014
(Syed Rashid Ali, Karachi, Pakistan)