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Certified sustainable palm oil
Tue 4th February 2014
Amanah Association – a pioneer in palm oil sustainability: Laying the foundations for success
Tags: Smallholders // Palm oil // Indonesia // RSPO
Last year, the Amanah Association was the first Independent Smallholder Association in Indonesia to achieve Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification. RSPO certification helps protect the farmers’ immediate environment, improve yields and reduce input costs.

The Amanah story perfectly illustrates why small-scale farmers really matter when it comes to sustainability and how, by working together, organisations from NGOs and palm oil producers to global retailers and manufacturers can make a difference to our planet.

The Amanah Palm Oil Independent Smallholders Association was formed with support from WWF-Indonesia, the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture, the Riau Provincial Government, the Pelalawan District Government, the RSPO,Carrefour Foundation International and PT. Inti Indosawit Subur, a subsidiary of the Asian Agri Group.

The road to RSPO certification took several years but was an important milestone for a country where over 40% of palm oil plantations are managed by smallholders and for an industry striving to improve its track record in sustainability.

In Riau Province over 1.1 million hectares are farmed by smallholders, 76% by independent smallholders who, unlike scheme smallholders, are not backed by companies and rely on traditional methods of farming handed down over generations. To increase productivity, independent smallholders often expand their plantations - sometimes into protected zones and national parks, threatening the habitats of endangered species.

WWF-Indonesia were quick to pinpoint this problem and set about identifying smallholder groups farming near protected zones so they could work with them to champion sustainable farming practices. The aim was to introduce farmers to RSPO principles and criteria, facilitate certification and in doing so provide training in sound agricultural practices that can increase yield without the need to expand plantations into protected areas.

Back in 2011, a cooperative of farmers were chosen by WWF-Indonesia to pioneer the project based on their capacity, strong spirit and location next to the Tesso Nilo National Park.

To enable the group of farmers to qualify for the RSPO group certification scheme, WWF-Indonesia facilitated the establishment of the Amanah Association, which comprises ten farmers’ groups, with 349 members farming 763 ha of oil palm plantations.

A programme was developed which included focus group discussions, training in sustainable agricultural practices and legal compliance, as well as preparation for pre-audit and audit by the certification body.

Dani Rahadian, WWF Palm Oil Senior Officer for Smallholders Engagement, and his field staff worked directly with Amanah farmers to ensure compliance with RSPO P&Cs. Certification was achieved on 29th July 2013.

“It has been a 2-year journey but one that doesn’t end with certification. We continue to support the Amanah Association to maintain their good work and have been working with them to facilitate off-market GreenPalm certificate deals with Unilever, who have committed to buy Amanah’s GreenPalm certificates until 2018.”

GreenPalm allows manufacturers to offset their palm oil, palm kernel oil (PKO) and palm kernel expeller (PKE) use by buying GreenPalm certificates representing an equivalent volume that has been produced in line with RSPO principles and criteria.

GreenPalm directly supports RSPO-certified growers because it bypasses the supply chain. Suppliers stay the same but manufacturers can effectively support sustainable palm production at its source, enabling growers to earn a premium for utilising sustainable farming methods.

Collectively RSPO-certified palm growers have directly earned a premium of over $50 million over the past five years via GreenPalm.

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Issued on behalf of GreenPalm by Bluestorm 

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