Thursday, 12 November 2009

RSPO Extends Reach To Cover Smallholders

November 11, 2009

RSPO Extends Reach To Cover Smallholders

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 11 (Bernama) -- The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) initiatives, now limited to big plantation companies, will be extended to smallholders next year, its secretary-general Dr Vengeta Rao said.

The RSPO unites stakeholders from seven sectors of the palm oil industry with the objective of promoting the growth and use of sustainable oil palm products.

Rao said the RSPO would be introducing a certification scheme for smallholders.

"We are doing whatever is necessary for the smallholders to be certified. For the smallholders scheme, we have the standards and need to undertake a trial in Indonesia and later in Malaysia," he told reporters on the sidelines of the International Palm Oil Congress (PIPOC) 2009 here Wednesday.

To help reduce the burden of smallholders in terms of certification cost, he said the RSPO is looking at a different mechanism for them.

"We are looking at a different mechanism, If we go by the hectare, it may be costly for them. So, we are looking at grouping the smallholders.

"Being small, they obviously would not have enough financial capital to pay for an auditor. So, the RSPO is looking how we can support the certification of smallholders," he explained.

As it is aimed to help the industry, he said the smallholders standard will not be as same as that for big producers.

"The standard for the smallholders will be lenient and they may not have to pay for an auditor," Rao said.

He said the smallholders just need to prepare their farms and follow the RSPO standard to receive certification.

Currently, 11 per cent of Malaysian palm oil production comes from independent smallholders, with about 30 per cent by smallholder schemes such as those under FELDA and FELCRA.

Rao said more than 30 Malaysian companies are members of the RSPO.

"From the 30, about five to six, have been certified. I expect all the other companies to receive certification by the end of this year," he indicated.

The IOI Group, United plantation Bhd, Sime Darby Bhd, Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad and Kulim (Malaysia) Berhad are among big players certified by RSPO.