Amanah Association Manager Pak Narno, far left, stands with three of the 500 smallholders within the association set to become the first ISPO certified independent farmers in Indonesia. Photo:Rebecca Lake/Riau/InPOP
Jakarta & Pelalawan, March 29th, 2016 — A cooperative of 500 oil palm farmers from the Sumatran province of Riau are on track to becoming the first independent farmers certified under the government of Indonesia’s sustainable palm oil standard (ISPO) thanks to a multistakeholder training initiative, which began on Tuesday, March 29th 2016.
The training phase of the pilot project — which is supported by the Ministry of Agriculture and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with palm oil company Asian Agri — is expected to take three months to complete and will involve workshops on good agriculture practice and effective plantation management for improving yields. SNV Netherlands Development Organisation will facilitate the training and technical support for the independent farmers.
Once the training is complete, the Amanah cooperative will be independently assessed for its adherence with ISPO’s Principles and Criteria. If the cooperative passes the audit it will receive ISPO certification, becoming the first group of smallholder farmers in the nation to do so.
“We are pleased to work with the UNDP and Asian Agri in our pursuit to expand the ISPO standard to Indonesia’s smallholder farmers. These farmers are the most vulnerable to market demands for sustainable palm oil and require the most support,” said Director of Perennial and Beverages Crops for the Directorate General of Plantations at the Ministry of Agriculture, Dwi Praptomo Sudjatmiko
Amanah Farmer Association Head, Pak Narno, with the Head of ISPO Secretariat Pak Herdrajat Natawidjaja. Photo:Rebecca Lake/Riau/InPOP
Today, smallholder farmers are responsible for over 40 percent of the oil palm plantations spread throughout the archipelago. These farmers, on average, manage just 2 hectares of land and they contribute to over a third of the nation’s total palm oil supply. Unlike large multinational companies with unwavering access to capital and resources, smallholder farmers cannot afford the vast investment required to switch to long-term sustainable practices and many are simply unaware of how to productively manage their crop.
The outcome of the smallholder pilot training phase in Pelalawan, Riau, is expected to form a blueprint on how best to scale-up ISPO certification throughout Indonesia’s oil palm producing regions and increase the capacity of the nation’s estimated two million smallholder farmers, many of who struggle to achieve industry average yields.
Tri Widjayanti, InPOP's National Coordinator, launched the smallholder training alongside the provincial government of Riau and Asian Agri. Photo:Rebecca Lake/Riau/InPOP
“This pilot project is a small stepping stone in a much larger effort to achieve sustainable palm oil in Indonesia without cutting small-scale farmers out of the global supply chain. We must build a strong connection between poverty reduction and environment protection and ensure that the poor are included in the vital effort to conserve Indonesia’s enviable biodiversity and ecosystems,” said Christophe Bahuet, UNDP Indonesia Country Director.
“Asian Agri is committed to improving the capacity of independent smallholders, to ensure that sustainable practices directly benefit developing communities. Sustainable plantation practices are now an obligation in the oil palm industry and are expected to go beyond their own supply chains industry players. We hope to identify and reform regulatory barriers through this process so that others in the private sector will follow our lead and partner with the government,” said Freddy Widjaya, Director of Asian Agri.
Results and lessons learned throughout the period of smallholder training and certification, estimated to cost $30,000 USD, will inform the government-led Indonesia Palm Oil Platform (InPOP) as it drafts the framework for a National Action Plan for Sustainable Palm Oil set to be finalized and implemented in 2018.
Meet Pramono. In 2002, the 42-year-old oil palm farmer from Ukui in Riau Province, joined local smallholder association Amanah in an attempt to join forces with like-minded farmers and ultimately improve his yield. Today Pramono is now an RSPO and soon to be ISPO certified smallholder farmer with an average yield of 2 tons of FFB, per hectare, per month. The farmer admits it's very difficult for smallholders to achieve certification without government, NGO and private sector support and that he feels lucky to be one of the very few Indonesian farmers who has received quality training. "Unlike other smallholder farmers who have no support to achieve certification, our fruit is considered more transparent and we have better access to buyers." Photo:Rebecca Lake/Riau/InPOP