The Palm Scribe

RSPO Sees 2,149 Oil Palm Smallholders Join Its Sustainability Agenda In 2020

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) saw a total of 2,149 Indonesian independent smallholders join its system and work towards transforming palm oil cultivation to make sustainable practice the norm.

In 2020 RSPO received 16 membership applications from Indonesian independent smallholder groups or up 167 percent from the previous year, the multi-stakeholder organization said in an article in Linkedin Monday (18/1) adding that out of these, 10 received approval to join the RSPO system.

“The new members represented an accumulated total of 2,149 independent smallholders, with a total land area of 5,380.85 hectares, spread across three provinces – Riau, North Sumatra, and Central Kalimantan,” RSPO said.

Based on RSPO Market Data, up until October 2020, the total number of RSPO certified Indonesian independent smallholders stood at 5,914 smallholders across 29 groups, with a total certified area of 14,909 hectares.

The new members were the first in the world to be certified under the new RSPO Independent Smallholder Standard which was adopted at the organization’s general assembly in 2019.

RSPO Indonesia’s Country Director, Tiur Rumondang, said smallholders were an untapped market, and saw leverage points in sustainable palm oil supply from independent smallholders who are holding the lion share of land control in Indonesia compared to scheme smallholders. 

“To make the Independent Smallholder Standard accessible to all, the next priority investment is directed at giving life to the standard through continuous adapted training and proactive engagement based on the smallholder heterogeneity within the country,” Rumondang said.

Guntur Prabowo, RSPO Indonesia’s Smallholder Program Manager said that the groups were able to achieve certification with assistance and incentives from market players in the supply chain.

 “Our priority is to attract more market players to build a stronger business case for smallholder inclusion through increased support and market links. By buying RSPO Smallholder Credits and by supporting smallholder certification programs on the ground, we are seeing an excellent demonstration of shared responsibility,” he added. 

Yoyok Kuswoyo, Group Manager of Kelompok Tani Karya Bersama, one of the newly accepted independent smallholder groups, was quoted in the same article as saying that they had learned about RSPO and its sustainable oil palm cultivation practice from a nearby successful group.

Kuswoyo aired expectations that their newly established group could also implement better plantation management practices, while maintaining trust among their own members. The group has gone through various rounds of training in order to join RSPO. 

“We see the benefit of recording Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFB) and collectively planning for fertilization as a group, which is much cheaper compared to doing it individually” Kuswoyo said. 

RSPO said that it hoped to see others inspired by the achievements of certified groups. 

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