A program involving three private companies — Consumer good company KAO Corporation Indonesia, vegetable oil processor APICAL and palm oil producer Asian Agri — on July 14, 2022 saw its first batch of independent oil palm smallholders it had trained, obtain sustainability certification from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
The empowerment program, called “Smallholder Inclusion for Better Livelihood and Empowerment (SMILE) saw Khairul Anam, who heads the Koperasi Konsumen Tebing Tinggi Pangkalan Sejahtera (KKTTPS) cooperative in the Labuhan Batu district of North Sumatra received the RSPO certificate for its 239 members from RSPO Acting Head of Smallholder program Guntur Prabowo in a ceremony here.
The program since its launch in November 2020 has already provided training and other assistance to 698 smallholders from plasma schemes to help strengthen their good sustainable and climate-resilient best practices in oil palm cultivation and enhance their livelihood. More smallholders are scheduled to undergo a RSPO main audit in the third quarter of this year.
Asian Agri Director of Sustainability and Stakeholder Relations Bernard A. Ridho, speaking at the same ceremony said that with SMILE, “We can continue to support and improve the well-beings of independent smallholders. We are proud of the smallholders who successfully completed the RSPO audit.”
He said that independent smallholders make up 40 percent of the palm oil industry’s output and that the program is seeking to get 5,000 smallholders RSPO certified by 2030.
“We launched SMILE to reduce the social an economic gap that affect the livelihoods of independent smallholders by providing training and workshops to enhance smallholders’ technical knowledge, allowing them to achieve RSPO certification for the first phase of the audit through adoption of good sustainable practices,” said Bremen Young, Apical Director of Sustainability.
For Kao, which depends on natural resources, palm oil is very important. KAO Corporation Indonesia President and CEO Maeda Yasuhiko said that his company’s goal was to use 100 percent sustainable, RSPO certified palm oil for its production by 2025.
”With SMILE, we are able to build a sustainable supply chain by upskilling the independent smallholders to adopt best agriculture practices for better livelihoods,” said Maeda.
Anam, speaking at the ceremony said that the SMILE program was very beneficial for independent smallholders. “Not only do we benefit in learning the rights methods in agrofarming for the plantation, but we also receive additional equipment in addition to the premium given,” Anam said, referring to the palm oil price premium RSPO certified growers are entitled to.
Ridho said that under the SMILE program, the smallholders are given trainings so that they can apply good sustainable practices in growing their crop, “Only after they are able to apply these best practices do we begin to enter the certification process.”
Kao, Asian Agri and Apical regularly engage with various stakeholders, such as non-governmental organizations, non-profit-organizations and community leaders to ensure the delivery of high-quality training and adequate equipment allocation leading to sustainable best practices among the smallholders.