Palm Oil Exporter May Turn to Biomass Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

Palm Oil Exporter May Turn to Biomass Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

JAKARTA—Researcher suggested palm oil exporters to diversify their export products amid economic turmoil caused by COVID-19 pandemic. Biomass and lauric oils were considered to be promising alternate export products during the times.

Head of Socio Techno Economy Research Group at the Indonesian Oil Palm Research Institute (PPKS) Ratnawati Nurkhoiry spoke at #BincangPakar, an online discussion forum organized by PPKS, Thursday (30/4/2020). A highly topical theme was examined at the forum: ‘Palm Oil Amid COVID-19 Pandemic’.

She said during COVID-19 pandemic, many countries suspended trading activity due to the lockdown. However, essential goods must always be available such as foods, fuels, and healthcare products, including fuels to run power plants. Some countries like Japan and South Korea prefer to use renewable energy such as oil palm biomass.

Biomass which is produced from the oil palm industries include oil palm trunks (OPT), oil palm fronds (OPF), empty fruit bunches (EFB) and palm pressed fibres (PPF), palm shells and palm oil mill effluent palm (POME).

“Palm oil companies can export products less affected by COVID-19 such as oil palm biomass used to run power plants," Ratnawati said.

Other potential products are lauric oils which are highly essential to strengthen the human immunity system which is the key factor to prevent COVID-19. “Market export offer great opportunity for lauric oils amid COVID-19 outbreak,” she said.

She strongly believed that palm oil export market will recover as soon as countries lift their lockdowns. “

“Goods exports will rebound as countries reopen after the lockdowns. China, for instance, need palm oil for its biodiesel program. India as well, since many palm oil refineries were suspended during lockdown. As soon as they lift their lockdowns, export market will rebound.” ***