Indonesia will lift its palm oil export ban from 23 May, following improvements in the domestic cooking oil supply situation, President Joko Widodo announced on Thursday.
The decision to lift the ban was taken despite the price of bulk cooking oil having not yet reached the targeted 14,000 rupiah per litre price, as the government considers the welfare of 17 million workers in the palm oil industry, the president said in a video statement.
Indonesia, the world’s top palm oil exporter, on 28 April halted shipments of crude palm oil and some of its derivative products to control soaring prices of domestic cooking oil, rattling global vegetable oil markets.
Hundreds of Indonesian smallholder farmers staged a protest in the capital Jakarta and in other parts of the country, demanding the government end a palm oil export ban that has slashed their incomes.
The export ban, designed to cool the domestic price of cooking oil, has caused “economic hardship” for some 16 million farmers as the low fruit prices no longer cover costs, said Gulat Manurung, chairman of the Indonesian Oil Palm Farmers Association.
Cooking oil has stayed stubbornly above the official guidance of 14,000 rupiah (96 cents) a liter in spite of the ban.
In a statement, the smallholder farmers’ group APKASINDO said since the export ban the price of palm fruit had dropped 70% below a floor price set by regional authorities.
Independent farmers are not protected by the floor price, which is fixed through an agreement between mills and large-scale cooperatives. Source: livemint.com