Three hundred and nineteen oil palm smallholders in Pelalawan district, Riau, made history as the first oil palm smallholders to be certified by the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO). These farmers, who are part of Amanah Association, successfully met all the requirements and criteria required by the ISPO after they underwent a training and mentoring process, supported by the Sustainable Palm Oil Initiative (SPOI) project, a partnership between the United Nations for Development Programme (UNDP) Indonesia and the Ministry of Agriculture.
ISPO is a certification system issued by the Indonesian government, which aims to create a more sustainable Indonesian palm oil industry and to support the Indonesian President’s commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emission by ensuring the implementation of regulations regarding oil palm plantation. Currently, ISPO is mandatory for companies and voluntary for smallholders.
ISPO certification gives smallholders a lot of advantages. Once they are certified, they are able to meet the global demands for sustainable palm oil products, and get a priority privilege to sell their Fresh Fruit Bunch (FFB) to ISPO certified companies. They also gained knowledge on good agriculture practices, which will help improve the productivity and quality of their crops. This is expected to increase their overall revenue, and at the end help to reduce deforestation and environmental damage from the expansion of plantation and unsustainable practices.
“Congratulations to the Amanah Association. The certification of this first group of smallholders is the result of a successful cooperation between many actors, including the Government, the private sector and smallholders themselves. UNDP looks forward to supporting thousands more smallholders with certification, which will contribute to the sustainability of the whole palm oil supply chain." said Christophe Bahuet, UNDP Indonesia Country Director.
Not only training and mentoring, UNDP through SPOI also supported the farmers to resolve their land legality issues. One of the biggest challenges in the ISPO certification process is that most Indonesian smallholders do not have the Certificate Letter for Cultivation (Surat Tanda Budidaya – STDB)—which is one of the requirements for ISPO—including the smallholders in Amanah Association. But, after a series of consultation meeting with the Pelalawan District Government, and very good cooperation with the Pelalawan Estate Crops and Veterinary Agency, the farmers managed to obtain their STDBs.
“This is a very good achievement, and this shows that Indonesia is on the right path to develop a better and more sustainable palm oil industry. Our commitment is by 2020 at least 70% of Indonesian oil palm products is ISPO certified, and we can only reach this by working together towards the same goal,” said Director of Processing and Marketing of Estate Crops, Ministry of Agriculture, who is also the Secretary of ISPO Commission, Ir. Dedi Djunaedi, M.Sc.
This training and mentoring initiative is a pilot project, and the outcome of the initiative is expected to help form a blueprint for how to best scale up ISPO certification throughout Indonesia’s oil palm producing regions, and to encourage other parties to come together to help Indonesian oil palm smallholders.
“Through this training and mentoring initiative, other smallholder farmers and I learned a lot about good cultivation practices and the importance of protecting the environment. This is not just about us—this is for the sake of our next generation,” said H. Narno, the head of Amanah Association.
Photo: H Narno (far right) representing Amanah in accepting the ISPO certificate from Director General of Estate Crops, Bambang, MM