Sustainable Effort
    Category: Issues & Ideas By : Ardian Wibisono Read : 1033 Date : Thursday, October 13, 2016 - 11:28:22

    Ahmad Zamroni / Forbes Indonesia

    Indonesia is the world’s largest crude palm oil (CPO) producer, accounting for roughly half of the world’s 60 million tonnes of output. Environmentalists complain that production comes at the expense of such ills as endangering wildlife, destroying rainforests, warming the globe and encouraging haze in the Singapore. CPO supporters point to the benefits of the industry to development.

    The new Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Indonesia director Tiur Rumondang has a big ambitions for her NGO, which is based in Zurich and formed in 2004 to offer certification and standards to the global CPO industry, especially to ensure CPO comes from sustainable, environmentally-friendly and community-friendly production. 


    “We’re aiming to have 50% of the [Indonesian] palm oil industry RSPO certified by 2020, and that’s going to be really tough,” Tiur says. Since certification was established in 2008, RSPO has so far certified 11% of the domestic palm oil industry, representing 143 mills under 31 grower companies and a total plantation area of 1.4 million hectares.

    To reach 50%, Tiur says RSPO is trying new methods to get industry players to become certified. In the past, RSPO focused mostly on growers and palm oil producers. However, now Tiur sees that end-purchasers and customers need to be educated about the issue as well. “Why would a company feel that they should be sustainable if the market doesn’t understand the importance of sustainability? So now we are working on both ways. We focus on the growers as well as improving awareness of the consumers,” she says.

    Most consumers know very little about palm oil and its social and environmental impact, she notes. However, RSPO’s research has found that consumers are willing to buy a sustainable product if it is the same price as one that is not, or even if it is slightly higher in price. RSPO has three different certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO) labels to help consumers pick products. The category is based on the suppliers’ percentage of sustainability—having 100%, 95% or above 50%.

    She is also aware that small holders and farmers, managing 25 hectares or less, account for over 40% of plantations in Indonesia. The smallest ones are backyard plantations. These small holders are hard to get certified. To help them, RSPO has set aside $2.5 million for a small holders support fund as well as working with NGOs for capacity building and assistance. So far only three small famers groups have managed to get certified, but they say certification has made a difference.

    Jalal Sayuti, head of the Tanjung Sehati farmers group in Sarolangun, Jambi, says that RSPO standards have improved productivity and cost efficiency. One example: they use natural predators like owls and snakes to control pests instead of buying chemical pesticides. To be certified, farmers should also be able to create an accounting system and a report of their performance, which would also make them bankable.

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