The Sawit Terampil (Skilled Palm oil) program, a collaboration between a number of private companies, has managed to boost the oil palm cultivation skills of more than 4,000 independent smallholders in the Leuser Ecosystem in Aceh and North Sumatra.
The program that involves Sinar Mas Agribusiness and Food (SMAF), MARS and Fuji Oil as well as a number of other partners, was built from SMAF’s initiative for traceability up until plantations, which saw the company’s map 95 percent of its supply chain by end of 2021.
“Increasing the capability of farmers and suppliers through transfer of knowledge is key to the implementation of sustainable agricultural practices,” said Anita Neville, Chief Sustainability & Communications Officer SMAF.
Speaking at a webinar titled “Traceability in sustainable palm oil – What is the Next Step?” Neville said that information obtained from the traceability initiative has allowed SMAF to analyze the potentials of gaps in productivity, harvest results and agricultural practices and provide the right support to farmers.
The Sawit Terampil program provides a series of group training to boost their capacity and individual support in the form of guidance so that the participating smallholders can implement good agricultural practices.
These training and guidance are provided to help the independent smallholders improve their cultivation methods and be ready to apply for the certifications from the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
“The Sawit Terampil program has currently already been implemented in 10 districts in North Sumatra and Aceh and will continue up until December 2023. Since this program was started, about 61 percent of the participants have a better understanding of sustainable oil palm cultivation practices compared to before taking part in the program,” said Head of Traceable & Transparent Production SMAF, Wahyu Wigati Wijayanti.
Speaking at the same seminar, Wijayanti said that SMF has the intention of helping those farmers who were ready to get their ISPO and RSPO certifications.
“We continue to welcome new opportunities in working together with potential partners to help farmers and the agriculture sector to grow,” she added.
SMAF believes that improving the livelihood of farmers was a joint responsibility and demanded the contribution of all stakeholders in the value chain, including the farmers, the processors, traders and producers using palm oil products.
SMAF has developed a knowledge ecosystem that is backed by financing partners to implement the Sawit Terampil program, including agro technical company Koltiva as executor, SMART Research Institute (SMARTRI), the agronomy practice research division of the company as mentor MARS and Fuji Oil, which share the same commitment.
Chief Operating Officer Koltiva, Ainu Rofiq said that with data-based suggestions for the implementation of agricultural practices, it was hoped that farmers can improve their livelihood while also conserve the environment.
Rukaiyah Rafik, Head of the Farmer’s School of the Forum of Sustainable Palm Oil Farmers said the low level of knowledge, including on the varieties and fruit qualities, as well as the lack of education often hampered farmers but these could be overcome with targeted aid and knowledge transfers such as in the Sawit Terampil program.
SMAF and its partners believe that it was important to involve suppliers in the transformation process. The company will continue to share its experience and its best practices to suppliers in the framework of building an industry that was responsible and resilient.