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GAPKI Calls On Members To Help Stop Fires In Smallholders Plot

Pekanbaru ( - The Indonesian Palm Oil Association (Gapki) has called on its members to play a more active role to help in efforts to extinguish forest fires occurring beyond their concession areas.

Gapki chairman Joko Supriyono stated here, Friday, that forest fires had become a serious problem for all parties.

Therefore, the Gapki members should be committed to help the government to overcome the problem.

"This will include fires occurring in smallholders plots; we will put in all efforts to help them extinguish the fire," Joko said after the installment of Riau's Gapki executive board 2017-2020.

Palm oil plantations are always under the spotlight when forest fires occur, especially in the Riau Province, because the association's members have yet to play an active role in stopping the fire, Joko noted.

Therefore, it will not be enough to tackle only the fires occurring inside their concession lands.

"I think it will be impossible for plantations to burn their own land because it will be against the law. Even if the fire source is outside the concession land, the company will still be considered as negligent and will have to bear the sanctions," he revealed.

Plantation firms, he stressed, should be increasingly alert to prevent forest fires, especially during the upcoming dry season.

Joko remarked that Gapki had established 350 fire-aware villages throughout the country by involving residents and companies to overcome the problem.

All the Gapki members should also coordinate with the government, the National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB), and security personnel, he maintained.

He observed that in the past two years, he has yet to receive a report on forest fires occurring in Gapki members' concession lands.

Currently, of the total 3,000 palm oil plantation firms in the country, 750 of them are members of the Gapki.

Meanwhile, Riau Governor Arsyadjuliandi Rachman said that the Gapki was expected to recruit more members to facilitate better coordination while handling forest fires.

In addition to this, the association must improve synergy between its members and the government, especially in regional development under the corporate social responsibility (CSR) program, Andi emphasized. 

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