Apply for ISPO cert from Jan 2012

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian oil palm planters in Indonesia, whose estates are mandated to be certified under the Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO), can start applying from January 2012.

"This year, we've been busy laying down the legal mechanisms for ISPO. Next year, we'll start enforcing the ISPO," said Indonesia Palm Oil Commission chairman Rosediana Suharto. 

The ISPO reflects compliance with all existing laws of four ministries namely; Ministry of Agriculture, State Ministry for the Environment, the Minstry of Forestry and the National Land Agency.

"The ISPO is meant to streamline the enforcement channels of various government agencies," Rosediana told Business Times at the sidelines of the Palm Oil International Congress (Pipoc 2011) here yesterday. Rosediana said oil palm planters have until end-2014 to fully comply with the ISPO. 

Currently, a number of oil palm plantations in Indonesia hold certifications from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Malaysian firms, of which estates are RSPO-certified, do not automatically qualify for ISPO but "they will be given due consideration and accorded flexibility".

The RSPO was initially hailed as a forum where stakeholders of diverse interests are considered as equal partners. Somehow, over the years, the roundtable of equal duties and rights became lop-sided. The RSPO has tipped in favour of environmental and animal rights activists.

Western green activists and their affiliates in Indonesia reportedly argue that "the ISPO is of lower standards than RSPO" and questioned whether it will be internationally accepted.

In response, Rosediana said, "The word 'sustainable' does not belong to any one organisation. The interpretation of the word 'sustainable' is not confined to that dictated by RSPO. We're doing this for our country. We're doing this for our environment. Unlike some organisations, we're not doing this for money. There's no membership fees and we'll ensure that the auditors comply with government regulations." 

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