Thailand is the first country in the world to have independent smallholders as RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) Certified which comprises a community of 412 smallholders over 2,767.33 hectares of planted land. These independent smallholders will now have an opportunity to trade approximately 52,000 mt of certified sustainable Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFB), generating an estimated 10,000 mt of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO). Currently, the total annual production capacity of RSPO certified sustainable FFB is approximately 36 million metric tonnes globally.

The international multi stakeholder organization and certification scheme for sustainable palm oil, RSPO, has been collaborating closely with major producing countries around the world to build capacity amongst independent smallholders in the past few years. This was a pressing priority after the successful certification of schemed smallholders in Malaysia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

Darrel Webber, Secretary General of RSPO commented that: “As the third largest producer of crude palm oil (CPO) in the world, over 70% of oil palm in Thailand is produced by independent smallholders. The primary challenges for smallholders to become certified include lack of awareness on benefits of being certified; funding support and lack of expertise or capacity building. To this end, the RSPO is committed to mobilizing strategic initiatives aimed at addressing these primary issues.

“Smallholders also need to be made aware of the advantages of being certified which includes access to international demand markets for sustainable palm oil; longer term efficiencies in terms of yield and productivity as well as effective cost management. A recent report by WWF in collaboration with CDC (a UK government-owned development finance institution) and FMO (the Netherlands Development Finance Company) clearly attests that the benefits of embracing sustainability outweigh the costs incurred which reinforces that responsible practices are not only good for the environment but is also commercially advantageous.” Webber added.

Daniel May, Project Manager at GIZ, an organization funded by the German government to accelerate sustainable palm oil production amongst smallholders in Thailand, commented, “The German government, in particular German Federal Ministry of Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU) will continue to demonstrate support in enabling smallholders around the world towards sustainability according to internationally set standards. The certification of independent smallholders was contributed by GIZ in the form of training services on best management practices such as seed selection, fertiliser application; proper health, safety and environment practices. Thailand is certainly raising the bar in its commitment to sustainable palm oil”

The National Interpretation for Thailand for Smallholders developed by the Thai National Interpretation Working Group (Thai NI WG) has been approved by the RSPO. The Thai NI WG has worked since 2010 to develop the document involving 21 representatives from Academics, grower/ farmer representatives, refineries and biodiesel plants, palm oil crushing mills, NGOSs, Government and Association. This now enables independent smallholders in Thailand to be audited and certified against the standard.

14% of world’s palm oil production is now RSPO certified

The current estimated annual production capacity of RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil is 7.2 million metric tonnes, approximately 14 percent of global palm oil production. Spread over 1.6 million hectares of certified area – 45.5% of the world’s current RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil production capacity comes from Indonesia; followed by 44.7% from Malaysia; with the remaining 9.8% from Papua New Guinea; Solomon Islands; Brazil; Colombia and Ivory Coast.

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