Indonesia to continue expanding palm oil estates amid environmental concerns

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Indonesia, the world largest palm oil producer, would continue the expansion of its much-contested oil palm plantations to cover a total area of 18 million hectares, from the current 9.7 million amid environmental concerns, a newspaper said here Thursday.

Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Radjasa said on Wednesday that Indonesia would adopt "sustainable palm oil development" to ensure the expansion would not create more environmental problems.

"Sustainability is not an option, it's a must. Sustainability in the palm oil sector must cover all three aspects, social, economic and environmental," Hatta was quoted by the Jakarta Post as saying.

The minister noted the government was committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2020, and that such a target could only be achieved by establishing new oil palm plantations.

Therefore, he said, the government would implement stricter regulations on clearing land for oil palm estates, and would work to reduce forest fires and illegal logging.

An official at Agriculture Ministry, Bayu Khisnamurthi, said that Indonesia's palm oil sector was one of the booming sectors, and with the government's support and support from the banking sector, he predicted the country's output would double in the next decade to 40 million tons per year.

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