22 May 2008

Indonesia looking to Papua province to expand palm oil production

9:44 am on 22 May 2008

Indonesia is now looking at its vast easternmost provinces in Papua to expand its palm oil plantations.

AFP reports Indonesia's agriculture ministry's Director General for Plantations, Achmad Manggabarani, as saying that since Sumatra and Kalimantan have become too dense for new palm oil plantations, the only land available is in Papua.

Indonesia, which is the world's largest palm oil producer, has three to four million hectares of land suitable for palm oil plantations at its disposal in the Papua region.

Mr Manggabarani says that several companies, particularly Malaysian entities, have already expressed interest in taking up the work.

He says concessions would be offered in Papua smaller than the normal 100,000 to 200,000 hectares in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

However environmental groups, including Greenpeace, have called for a moratorium on the expansion of oil palm plantations in Indonesia, warning that soaring world demand is creating an environmental crisis.

The destruction of Indonesia's forests is seen as a major contributor to global warming and climate change.