Fourteen Indonesian reporters and bloggers were flown to Riau and Medan to learn about how sustainable practices were being implemented in palm oil production. During the four-day media trip, the group received an express course on the full life cycle of palm oil, starting with the oil palm seedling, to the manufacture of soap, one of its many end-products.
This programme is also part of WWF Indonesia’s #BeliYangBaik campaign aimed at educating the public about sustainable business practices in palm oil production and to raise consumer awareness about how they can show support by purchasing products from sustainable practices. The WWF is a member organisation of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
In Riau, the media group were invited to visit Musim Mas, a certified sustainable oil palm plantation in Sorek district in Pelalawan Regency. This plantation is a RSPO oil palm grower member with a refinery located in Medan. The first stop was Musim Mas’s plant breeding station which is known as the Genetic Research Centre (GRC). This was followed by a look at harvesting activities in the plantation area.
The RSPO was established in 2004 to promote the production and use of palm oil based on the triple bottom-lines of sustainability – People, Planet, and Profit. These principles are applied throughout the processes of palm oil production to ensure balance in all three sustainability objectives.
At the first two venues, the media group witnessed how Profit was delivered in an environment of sustainability. In RSPO, this element is reflected in Principle 3: Commitment to long-term economic and financial viability. In order to achieve long term economic viability, palm oil growers must ensure productive outcomes from their plantation by selecting good planting materials and also by performing best agricultural practices during planting periods.
The group visited Musim Mas’s conservation area which is the riparian belt located alongside the palm oil concession. The river’s existence is very important for the surrounding ecosystem. The conservation program represents RSPO’s sustainability principle of Planet. Musim Mas started its conservation program in 2001 by planting trees to rehabilitate the area – this was not only to retain but also to enrich the ecological functions of the area.
At the palm oil mill, the group saw how palm oil was processed from Fresh Fruit Bunches to Crude Palm Oil and they learnt how waste was reused to meet emission reduction targets. Through its methane capture facility, Musim Mas demonstrated its tangible act of sustainability by transforming waste to energy which produces electricity not only for its facilities but also for the surrounding community in Sorek.
Ensuring community and workers’ well-being is another important aspect which comes under RSPO’s sustainability bottom-line of People. At the last stop in Riau, the group visited a clinic and a school provided by the company for the local community.
The visit ended in Medan where the media group observed the processes involved in the manufacturing of candles and soaps – two of palm oil’s many end-products.