Palm oil: UN Environment Project and RSPO commit to supporting smallholders

By Lucy Whitehouse

- Last updated on GMT

Palm oil: UN Environment Project and RSPO commit to supporting smallholders

Related tags Agriculture

The United Nations Environment Project (UN Environment) and the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) have announced funding to support farmers working with sustainable palm oil.

The two groups have signed a small-scale funding agreement (SSFA) that aims to support oil palm smallholder farmers toward improved livelihood and sustainable production.

A total funding of USD 199,611 from the 10YFP Trust Fund administered by UN Environment and matching funding USD 83,683 from RSPO will be distributed between smallholder farmers in the regions of Sabah, East Malaysia, and Seruyan, Central Kalimantan, over the course of the two year project.

According to the two groups, It is estimated that the success of the project will improve the livelihoods of at least 50,000 schemed and independent smallholders in Sabah, and over 5,300 independent smallholders in Seruyan.

Supporting smallholders: crucial for sustainability

Strategic Projects Director at RSPO Yohanes Izmi Ryan says ensuring smallholder farmers have adequate financial support is an essential step towards ensuring sustainable palm oil production.

“Smallholders play a significant role in the supply chain, producing around 40% of the world’s palm oil, but suffer from lower yields, a lack of best management practices, and ultimately struggle to achieve international market access,”​ he explains.

While RSPO has worked to support smallholders over the years, we recognise that we’re yet to provoke large-scale inclusion of smallholders which RSPO and our stakeholders desire.

“However, certification has a significant impact on improving the livelihood of smallholders and interventions through this program will be scaled up to the jurisdictional level; enabling these smallholders to achieve RSPO certification,” he said.

How do these projects work in practice?

In Seruyan, the sole purpose of the project is to develop an Agricultural Facility to provide direct support and training for capacity building for more than 1,000 smallholder oil palm farmers, the RSPO explains. In Sabah, a set of four intervention activities will be trialed in 20 villages across the state.

“Throughout these initiatives, smallholders will develop knowledge and capacity on good agricultural practices and other key principles of sustainable agriculture, as well as being provided access to agricultural inputs such as fertilisers, seeds, and nursery management​,” the RSPO asserts.

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