In a First for Indonesia, Independent Smallholders Receive RSPO Certification | WWF Indonesia

In a First for Indonesia, Independent Smallholders Receive RSPO Certification

Posted on 01 August 2013   |  
Jakarta (1/8) — In a first for the Indonesian palm oil industry, an independent smallholder association has received certification from the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in acknowledgement of their sustainable plantation management. The certification, the second such certification of independent smallholders in the world, is particularly significant in Indonesia where over 40% of total palm oil production comes from smallholder’s plantations. WWF-Indonesia facilitated the formation of the Amanah Palm Oil Independent Smallholders Association with support from the Ministry of Agriculture, the Riau Provincial Government, the RSPO, Carrefour Foundation International, and PT. Inti Indosawit Subur, a subsidairy of the Asian Agri Group. The road to certification, which was achieved on 29th July 2013, stretches back to 2011. 
The Amanah Palm Oil Independent Smallholders Association’s 349 members manage 763 hectares of oilpalm plantation in Riau Province, where approximately 1.1 million hectares of palm oil plantations are operated by smallholders. Moreover, roughly 76% plantations in Riau are managed by independent smallholders.These smallholders do not ordinarily have access to the agricultural technology that can make them not only more efficient in their operations, but sustainable as well. WWF hopes that by raising the knowledge and productivity of these palm oil producers, unsustainable land expansion can be curbed. 
Explains Dr. Efransjah, CEO of WWF-Indonesia, “WWF-Indonesia sees independent smallholders as an important part of Indonesia’s palm oil industry. It is our belief that RSPO certification programs --- like the one that the Amanah Association joined --- will stand out as a good example of sustainable practice for palm oil plantation and will serve as a model to be adopted by other independent smallholders.” 
Darrel Webber, RSPO General Secretary, commended the certification: “In Indonesia, smallholders alone account for more than 40% of national palm oil production. That makes smallholders stewards of the nation’s natural resources --- this is why we launched the RSPO's Smallholders Fund Initiative last year to support smallholder certification.” Continued Webber, “This is the best way to raise awareness among smallholders of the advantages of being certified; for example, they will see first hand the benefits of gaining access to international sustainable palm oil markets, developing longer-term efficiencies in terms of yield and productivity, as well as better managing their costs.”  
Members of the association can already testify to the benefits of certification. Commented Haji Sunarno, Manager of the Amanah Association, “Before the trainings our average production was 20 tonnes per hectare per year. After the training, in the first four months of 2013 alone, we are enjoying a projected average of 24 tonnes over the year.” The long term benefits are likely to be even higher, explained Sunarno,” This boost in productivity took place during the dry season, when yields tend to be lower --- and so the overall increase in annual productivity is likely to be higher.”
Beyond the immediate benefits to productivity, the process of implementating RSPO principles and criteria have given the smallholders a new understanding of the importance of preserving their environment. Noted Sunarno, “Awareness of of the significance and fragility of high conservation value forest areas or the critical habitats of important species are now an integral concern to our members when they are planning to expand their plantations.”
Sunarno noted that the success of the Amanah Association had led to over additional 130 additional independent smallholders seeking to join the RSPO through the association. “At first, some of the smallholders were sceptical about the benefits of RSPO certification. Now they can see for themselves how our members have boosted productivity through enhanced cultivation techniques and now they want to join and become RSPO-certified independent smallholders.”

Notes for Editor:
  • Amanah Palm Oil Independent Smallholders Association is a legal entity with 349 independent smallholders as its members. The association is formed and registred by WWF-Indonesia to RSPO under group certification scheme. Member of this associaton owned plantation outside Tesso Nilo National Park. Map for Amanah members’ plantations can be downloaded in:
  • The RSPO Smallholders Support Fund (RSSF) is a funding scheme for eligible oil palm growers amongst smallholders. The RSSF is introduced in acknowledgement of the imperative and dominant role smallholders around the world play in the palm oil sector to promote and increase the production of Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) so that market transformation is realized. More information and eligibility requirement can be found in
  • Riau is the largest producers of palm oil in Indonesia with a total production of 5.7 million ton (Ministry of Agriculture data, 2011). From 2.1 million hectare of plantation in Riau, 1.1 million hectares are owned by smallholders, both scheme (affiliated with companies) or independent smallholders.
  • WWF-Indonesia field observation shows forest area, either protected forest or inactive logging concession, becomes main targets for expansion. Tesso Nilo National Park suffers from this illegal activity.  Of 83,000 ha of national part area, 30.000 ha has been encroached for oil palm plantations.

For more information, please kindly contact:
Irwan Gunawan, Deputy Director Market Transformation Initiative, WWF-Indonesia 
Email:, Mobile: +62 8128748535

Annisa Ruzuar, Communication Coordinator Market Transformation Initiative, WWF-Indonesia
Email:, Mobile: +62 81320044343



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