Indonesia bans exports of palm oil 

Orangutan mother hugging her baby, animal news
Orangutan mother with baby, photo: Fabrizio Frigeni on Unsplash

Indonesia announced plans on Friday to ban palm oil exports starting April 28. President Joko Widodo said in a video broadcast he wanted to ensure the availability of food products at home.

The ban will hurt other countries but is necessary to try to bring down the high domestic price of cooking oil, driven up by Russia’s war in Ukraine, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Indonesia’s finance minister, told news agency Reuters.

Global crude palm oil prices -palm oil is used as cooking oil in Indonesia- have surged to historic highs this year. The country is the world’s top palm oil producer, but “it’s still too expensive for the ordinary household to buy those cooking oils,” Indrawati said.

Policymakers have expressed concern about growing prospects of food shortages due to the war in Ukraine, a major producer of sunflower oil, wheat and corn. 

Production of palm oil leads to the destruction of forests, where orangutans, elephants, tigers and many other animals live. Last year, environmental activists protested are against deforestation of the Rawa Singkil Wildlife Reserve, one of Indonesia’s peat swamp forests. In 2019, an area of forest half the size of Belgium was burned for plantations in Indonesia.

The stop of shipments of Indonesian palm oil, widely used in food and beauty products, could raise costs for packaged food producers globally. China and India are big importers of palm oil from Indonesia.

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