Indonesia’s oil palm plantation currently covers 22.2 million ha (Sawit Watch, 2018) and 30% is owned by smallholders. Palm oil industry is a major contributor to the national economy, with crude palm oil (CPO) export reaching 12% of the national export and total production reaching 31 million tons in 2016. This export contribution is valued at USD 17.8 billion or IDR 231.4 trillion. Domestically, the Indonesian government is promoting palm oil for biodiesel and targeting CPO production to 40 million tons/year by 2020.
In addition, oil palm plantations in Indonesia face a number of issues, from environmental degradation, agrarian conflict, neglected workers conditions, threat to food availability, and more. Sawit Watch (2016) has recorded 782 communities in conflict against large scale oil palm plantations.
Empirically speaking, there are numerous problems with oil palm plantation development in Indonesia: (1) deforestation due to land clearing by clear cutting; (2) overlapping land concession permits; (3) land grabbing of (indigenous) community’s land due to lack of Free, Prior, Informed Consent (FPIC) mechanism; (4) plantation businesses disregarding policies, such spatial plan regulation; (5) challenges in information disclosure; (6) covert expansion by smallholders; (7) lack of land conflict resolution mechanism; (8) existing oil palm in forest areas; and (9) illegal oil palm plantations.
With increasing trends in oil palm plantation growth along with the empirical problems trailing behind, there must be strong government effort to resolve every issue in palm oil governance. As an initial step, oil palm permit moratorium must become the government’s stand. This moratorium is critical to provide a time interval for the government to review and reorganize all existing oil palm plantations.
On 14 April 2016, President Joko Widodo announced temporary moratorium for oil palm plantation and coal permits. This commitment finally became reality in the form of Presidential Instruction No. 8 of 2018 on Oil Palm Plantation Permit Moratorium and Evaluation and Increasing Oil Palm Plantation Productivity.
Through this regulation, the government is attempting to improve sustainable oil palm plantation governance, provide legal certainty, maintain and protect environmental sustainability as well as reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) emission, and increase oil palm smallholder facilitation and increase palm oil productivity.
Oil palm plantation permit moratorium and evaluation is the right momentum to improve oil palm plantation governance in Indonesia. This brief provides information on the challenges in implementing Presidential Instruction No. 8 of 2018, and further elaborate on how to connect this policy with other regulations so that the Presidential Instruction is effective and well implemented considering its limited validity period of 3 years.
 Sawit Watch. 2016. Menerka Luasan Kebun Sawit Rakyat. Bogor.
 http://www.netralitas.com/bisnis/read/17817/menkeu-sri-mulyani-harapkan-sumbangan-industri-sawit accessed on 29 April 2017 at 8 pm WIB.
 Roadmap Masyarakat Sipil untuk Reforma Perkebunan Sawit Indonesia Berkeadilan, 2018
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