Last week, I wrote about how GAR through the GSEP is already working on some of the 17 goals launched by the UN known as the Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs. We looked at how we as an agribusiness were focused on SDG 13: Climate Action.
That’s not the only goal we are pursuing. Here are some of the other areas that we are promoting and working on which are aligned with the SDGs:
Generating jobs and lifting the economy
- Global unemployment increased from 170 million in 2007 to nearly 202 million in 2012, of which about 75 million are young women and men.
- Nearly 2.2 billion people live below the USD2 poverty line and that poverty eradication is only possible through stable and well-paid jobs.
- 470 million jobs are needed globally for new entrants to the labour market between 2016 and 2030.
The palm oil industry in Indonesia currently provides direct and indirect jobs for 16 million people and contributes USD19 billion annually in export revenue to Indonesia. Incomes per hectare for palm oil is up to 10 times that of rice. This means the palm oil industry is key to driving rural development and providing much needed employment, services and local infrastructure.
Over 174,000 people work in our company including 67,000 smallholders. Many of these smallholders live in remote areas and palm oil has been a boon to them as the lucrative cash crop has improved their livelihoods and allowed them to buy their own houses and send their children to school and college.
Focusing on improving community welfare
Our plantations are often situated in remote areas. Communities living in these areas can face a lack of amenities ranging from proper healthcare to proper schools. Empowering the community and improving their welfare is one of the core principles in the GAR Social and Environmental Policy (GSEP). In this we are also aligned with SDG 3 and 4.
We currently support over 200 schools ranging from kindergarten to junior high. These schools employ over 1,700 teachers and educate over 28,000 students.
Students at one of our estate schools.
We ensure that each estate has educational facilities ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade schooling and that every region has a junior high school.
Children of our employees and casual workers living in the estate receive free education up to junior high school and heavily subsidised higher education. In the wider community, children receive heavily subsidised education at all levels.
To further encourage our employees to send their children to school, we provide free school bus services for all students. We donate books, teaching and learning materials to nearly 1,800 students in Central Kalimantan, Jakarta, Riau, South Kalimantan, and West Kalimantan.
In collaboration with Tzu Chi Foundation, we provide healthcare for our employees and communities including free medical and dental services for around 7,000 patients across our estates.
There are some 300 medical personnel in 150 plantation clinics giving free treatment for 1,000 patients daily. Surgery is provided for patients with conditions such as harelip, hernia and cataracts. And over 5,000 people in Central Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, Lampung, and West Java benefited from our support for child health and nutrition (including multivitamins and supplementary feeding).
The impact that the palm oil industry can have is clear: not only does it provide essential jobs – it also provides crucial facilities and infrastructure that helps lifts rural incomes and general wellbeing. Educational opportunities provided by the presence of palm oil companies like GAR is also key to helping break the cycle of poverty and this all brings us in alignment with yet another SDG goal: Eradicating Poverty.
Keep reading this blog, as I continue to take a look at what GAR is doing on the ground and how they relate to the SDGs.
- “Palm Oil and Economic Development” Indonesia Palm Oil Communication Center