Thai independent smallholders first to show their support for sustainable palm oil production
A group of independent smallholders from Thailand are leading the way in sustainable palm oil production by becoming the first in the world to sign up to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), showing their commitment to producing oil in a more efficient, environmentally friendly manner.
As part of the RSPO certification process the smallholders will be shown how to grow the oil palms to improve yield and lessen the impact on the environment, and if they meet the stringent RSPO criteria, they will be able to charge a premium for their sustainable palm oil using the GreenPalm programme.
General Manager of GreenPalm Bob Norman explains: “Globally, Thailand is the third largest producer of palm oil following Malaysia and Indonesia.
“However the percentage of that area under cultivation by independent smallholders is more than 70% - far higher than Indonesia or Malaysia. It’s crucial we make these growers aware that their cultivation methods may be harming the environment and that by employing more sustainable methods they will see their yield and their income increase.
“By signing up to the RSPO and going through the certification process, these farmers can learn how to grow more sustainably to achieve higher yields, and once certified they can charge a premium for their oil by signing up to the GreenPalm programme. Hopefully this first step will encourage other independent smallholders and larger farms to follow suit.”
GreenPalm works in conjunction with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), which implements the RSPO smallholder project on the ground and is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Environment, supporting the smallholders and helping them meet the stringent requirements of RSPO.
Bob Norman hopes that the Thai farmers will soon begin to feel the benefit of certification and in turn, more independent smallholders from across the globe will follow suit.
“By gaining certification and joining the GreenPalm programme these small, independent growers will begin to reap the rewards,” said Bob. “Their yields will increase and the environment and their income will benefit. Plus, GIZ is teaching them cultivation and management methods they will be able to use for the rest of their lives and pass on to the next generation of growers. That is true sustainability.”