The Palm Scribe

RSPO Sees 52% Increase in Certified Independent Smallholders

Photo: AFP

The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) said the organization continued to promote greater inclusion of smallholders while ensuring that the core sustainability requirements are held. RSPO added that the results were encouraging, with the number of RSPO certified independent smallholders up by 52 percent in the July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019 period while the total number of smallholders increased by an impressive 165% during the same period.

“I’m thrilled to see this sort of growth across a number of important parts of the sustainable palm oil value chain, particularly with regard to smallholders, and just before the new Independent Smallholder Standard is tabled for adoption at our upcoming roundtable conference this November. I’m confident we’ll see these numbers continue to increase in the years to come,” RSPO Chief Executive Officer, Datuk Darrel Webber, said in Kuala Lumpur at the release of the RSPO 2019 Impact Report.

The report said that as of June 30, 2019, there were 2,777 Independent Smallholders under Group Certification in Indonesia while in Malaysia, the number stood at 643 and in Thailand at 1,884. There are no data available yet on the number of independent smallholders in the Indonesian palm oil sector, but official data estimate that 35 percent of the country’s palm oil production is produced by smallholders and that their plantation accounts for 41 percent of Indonesia’s some 14.68 million hectares of palm oil plantation.

The impact report, according to a press release issued by RSPO from Kuala Lumpur, also noted the significant growth in RSPO certified area in Africa, by 56%. The total RSPO certified area globally, grew by over 22 percent year-on-year to 3.89 million hectares across 16 countries, with a production volume of 14.29 million metric tons (MT) of Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) and 3.21 million MT of Certified Sustainable Palm Kernel (CSPK). RSPO also approved 19 new grower members over the past financial year, totaling 171 growers in the organization as of 30 June 2019, the RSPO release said.

In terms of membership, RSPO grew by an impressive 11 percent reaching 4,349 members as of 30 June 2019, with the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom achieving the top three respectively for membership. The report also showed a 25 percent increase in RSPO Trademark license holders since the last reporting period and there was also a two percent growth in overall demand and uptake during this reporting period.

“Without more pressure and demand from the downstream market, the likely outcome is more unsustainable palm oil,” Webber argued.

The report claimed that RSPO members continued their efforts by avoiding land clearance and any new planting on peat, and by sequestering conservation areas in new development, thus saving 1.4 million tons of CO2, equivalent to removing almost 300,000 passenger vehicles from the road in a single year.

RSPO is due to convene its 17th Annual Roundtable Conference on Sustainable Palm Oil (RT17) in Bangkok, Thailand, under the theme, ‘A Shared Responsibility: Converting Commitments into Actions’. With 2020 sustainability targets fast approaching, RT17 will be the ideal platform for representatives from the global palm oil industry to discuss the latest challenges and opportunities facing the sustainable palm oil sector, the organizer said.

The conference will then be followed by the RSPO 16th Annual General Assembly (GA16) where members will vote on a number of resolutions, including the new proposed RSPO Independent Smallholder Standard.

The RSPO Independent Smallholders (ISH)Standard has gone through several rounds of public consultations and is scheduled for adoption by the General Assembly in November 2019.

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