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With support from Wilmar International Limited’s (Wilmar) subsidiary, PT Tania Selatan, and financial assistance from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Smallholder Support Fund, a group of more than 2,700 independent smallholders covering 5,500 hectares (ha) in South Sumatra, Indonesia, received the RSPO certification on 16 June 2016, making it the world’s largest individual group of independent smallholders ever to be certified.
Made up of seven village level cooperatives under the registered group name ‘Sapta Tunggal Mandiri’ (STM), these smallholders collectively produce approximately 92,000 metric tonnes (MT) of certified Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFB). Four of the seven cooperatives were former plasma smallholders tied to Wilmar’s PT Tania Selatan mill.
The certified products from the STM group will be sold via the mass balance supply chain.
Smallholders are pivotal to the palm oil industry as they account for about 40% of the world’s total palm oil output. Over the years, the industry has been seeking ways to help this group of stakeholders adopt sustainable practices so they can also have a share of the export markets that requires certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) which can bring about higher income and improve their livelihood.
Mr. Jeremy Goon, Wilmar’s Chief Sustainability Officer, said “To support multiple smallholding farmers and ensure compliance can be very challenging, but because value creation is at the heart of Wilmar’s approach to helping smallholders towards sustainable development, we undertook the challenge with the view of developing an inclusive sustainable value chain model that can be replicated and scaled up in other regions and districts of Indonesia. We are proud of Sapta Tunggal Mandiri’s achievement; it also gives us more confidence to advance our cause on this front.”
Mr. Amin Rohmad, one of the certified independent smallholders from the Dwi Tunggal cooperative and also the group manager of STM, said “We are very happy to be awarded the RSPO certification. The ability to produce sustainable FFB not only will improve our livelihood but also helps link us in South Sumatra to the global sustainable market. We have shown that independent smallholders are capable of complying with international sustainability standards if given adequate support. We are also proud to represent the South Sumatra Province.”
Ms. Julia Majail, Smallholder Programme Manager of RSPO said, “Today, more and more plasma smallholders are reaching a level of maturity allowing them to become independent and stand on their own. This said, it is crucial for companies such as Wilmar, NGOs and governments to continue promoting smallholder inclusiveness and capacity building and to support Independent Smallholders so that they can achieve RSPO Certification. Through certification, Independent Smallholders can increase their yield, improve profits, access to international markets while at the same time protecting the environment through adoption of good agricultural practices.”
To date, the RSPO has helped 113,673 individual smallholders gain certification and helped facilitate partnerships between smallholders, NGOs and the private sector. A total of certified area for smallholders is 263,371 ha.
Wilmar, an active member of the RSPO since 2005, is committed to developing an inclusive sustainable supply chain that extends beyond its associate plasma smallholders. As well as Indonesia, Wilmar is working to increase the production of CSPO from independent smallholders in Malaysia.
 Plasma scheme is a term which derives from the state-promoted ‘nucleus estate’ plantation model introduced in the 1980s, under which smallholders in the ‘plasma’ would cooperate with the large company in the ‘nucleus”. Under the Indonesian Plasma scheme, businesses may develop the land first and then distribute it to local communities to manage and harvest their own oil palm trees as smallholders).