How can we make palm oil sustainable?

Training smallholders to improve production practices

Wilmar recognises its fundamental role in the sustainable transformation of the palm oil industry. Wilmar’s ‘No Deforestation, No development on Peat and No Exploitation’ (NDPE) policy was launched in 2013 with a requirement to include smallholders in the global supply chain. Therefore, Wilmar established several programmes worldwide to educate smallholders (<50 ha plantation size) on sustainable palm oil production. One of these programmes was launched in 2016 in Honduras, a growing palm oil export market.

‘Wilmar Smallholders Support Honduras’ (WISSH) was developed with the aim to train smallholders to improve production practices while respecting the environment. The programme started in partnership with nine palm oil mills of AIPAH (Asociación Industrial de Productores de Aceite de Palma de Honduras) and NES Naturaleza (NES) as the implementer of the programme. A unique train-the-trainer method was used to share the knowledge. Each mill assigned 5-6 employees (supervisors, 50 in total) to receive extensive training by NES.

Afterwards, the supervisors, together with NES, trained 3,300 smallholders in 488 training sessions on topics such as the need for zero deforestation, good environmental and agricultural practices, improved business skills, and social responsibility. In the sessions different techniques were used including role play and visualisation exercises, complemented with a specific training manual in form of a booklet. The programme also introduced a mobile application (app) to facilitate crop management and allow farmers to monitor and control different field activities simply on their mobile phone.

Increasing smallholder participation

Palm oil production and trade is dominated by large enterprises, yet a substantial portion of worldwide production (40%) is carried out by small farmers. As large companies are increasingly moving towards sustainability certification to meet consumer demand, smallholders run the risk of being excluded from the certification process.

Smallholders often suffer from lower yields due to a lack of knowledge on good farming practices and this translates to lower incomes. In addition, it can be difficult for small scale producer to meet the certification requirements.

The growing demand for certification from consumers for sustainably produced palm oil places smallholders in a tough position. If they want to continue selling their product, then they will have to become certified. Additionally, most smallholders are unaware of sustainability initiatives, which when combined with low incomes, limited access to financial resources and inputs, low bargaining power and market access means smallholder famers will remain in a marginalised position.

Even when smallholders can fund certification efforts that would provide them with more sustainable incomes through greater market access, they often lack the necessary technical support and inputs to comply with the standards. This is unfortunate because palm oil presents a great opportunity for income and economic development. It can produce more oil using less land than any other oil crop.

Buying sustainable palm oil in stead of talking about it

Ferrero Group reaches the goal of 100% certified segregated RSPO sustainable palm fruit oil and goes beyond

As of 1st January 2015 Ferrero products are produced with only palm fruit oil that is 100% certified as sustainable and segregated according to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) supply chain, one year ahead of its original target. Yet, Ferrero’s responsibility does not stop at certification: its commitment continues through its Palm Oil Charter, launched in 2013, to address the leading causes of deforestation and create a balance between the conservation of the environment, community needs and economic benefit and viability.

While Ferrero is pleased with this achievement, our responsibility does not stop at this certification: in November 2013, the Group announced its strategic partnership with the non-profit organisation TFT (formerly The Forest Trust) by launching its own Ferrero Palm Oil Charter. The Charter has 10 specific criteria, which have been passed down to suppliers for the implementation in the plantations Ferrero supplies from. The current journey to Ferrero’s Charter is one of collaboration and transparency: activities in the field are carried out with TFT’s teams, suppliers are fully engaged through constructive dialogue and time-bound action plans whilst consumers are kept informed through reports publically available every six months.