Last week, news from CNN Indonesia and other sources reported that two Indoneisan farmers groups, PPHI and KOPRABUH, were calling on their president to pause kratom exports until trade regulations can be implemented. They accused kratom vendors and the American Kratom Association (AKA) of breaking agreements, and engaging in direct transactions with farmers in order to drive the price of kratom down, making it impossible for many farmers to implement sanitary procedures.
The AKA has responded to these allegations in a letter from Mac Haddow to the Indonesian president’s chief of staff, Dr. Moeldoko. “The AKA has never engaged in any sales transaction in purchasing kratom from a farmer or processor, and AKA has never sold any kratom to a manufacturer.” Haddow referred to the PPHI/KOPRABUH letter as containing “deliberately false claims by business owners in Indonesia who seek to monopolize kratom exports to the United States”.
A September 29, 2023 letter from the Chief of Staff Moeldoko to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requested the FDA drop its import alert. The import alert began in 2012 when current CEO of the largest dietary supplements industry group Natural Products Association (NPA) Daniel Fabricant was head of the FDA’s Division of Dietary Supplements. Until 2020, the NPA was a vocal proponent of criminalizing kratom consumers by making kratom a Schedule 1 substance, banning it on the federal level.
Moeldoko’s letter also promised the FDA that the Indonesian government will sterilize all kratom shipments by gamma ray irradiation, require all exports to be lab tested for heavy metals and bacterial contamination, and provide a certificate of authenticity with each shipment.
AKA’s Letter in Full
November 29, 2023
General TNI (Ret.) Dr. Moeldoko
Chief of Staff to the President of Indonesia Gedung Bina Graha
Jl. Veteran No. 16
Jakarta Pusat, 10110
Dear Dr. Moeldoko:
The American Kratom Association (“AKA”) is in receipt of a copy of a letter sent to you on November 13, 2023 from Mr. Heriyandri, S.Sos,.MM., General President of PERHIMPUNAN PENGUSAHA HOLTIKULTURA INDONESIA (PPHI) and Yohanis Ceanis Walean, Chairman of KOPERASI PRODUSEN ANUGERAH BUMI HIJAU (KOPRABUH) recommending the “export stoppage as a solution to the kratom problem, and I write to you today to offer our strong opposition to this recommendation.
The deliberately false claims by business owners in Indonesia who seek to monopolize kratom exports to the United States harms every kratom farmer in Indonesia. The AKA has never engaged in any sales transaction in purchasing kratom from a farmer or processor, and AKA has never sold any kratom to a manufacturer. The AKA has always encouraged kratom trade between kratom processors in Indonesia committed to quality standards and American vendors where testing for contaminants is the core principle to ensure consumers are protected.
The AKA has consistently advocated for kratom processors to adopt standards for kratom raw materials to meet or exceed FDA standards for wholesomeness and quality. The report issued by KOPRABUH and PPHI was riddled with inaccurate conclusions, unsupported allegations, and completely false assumptions.
The AKA is strongly supportive of the proposal you submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) on September 29, 2023, to lift the current import alert on kratom, Import Alert 54-15. Your letter outlines the procedures Indonesia will implement to assure the FDA kratom exports from Indonesia will be free from unsafe contaminants, and the AKA looks forward to supporting this proposal.
While there may be areas of agreement where the interests of kratom farmers in Indonesia will have access to traditional commodity trading transactions, the singular impediment to that occurring is the current FDA import alert.
The AKA remains committed to the principles and quality standards for kratom imports to the U.S. that you outlined in your September 29, 2023, letter to the FDA. We are equally committed to the benefits that will result from your petition to the FDA for kratom farmers and their families with the lifting of the FDA’s import alert on kratom where a fair-trade model can be implemented that respects all parties to any sales transaction.
C. M. “Mac” Haddow
Senior Fellow on Public Policy