628 Independent Smallholders Under Asian Agri Group Achieved RSPO Certificates

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From left: Asian Agri's Sustainability Head, Ivan Novrizaldie, Director of Sustainability Apical Group, Bremen Yong and Sutoyo, chairman of Anugrah Independent Palm Oil Farmers Association in Indragiri Hulu, Riau Province. Photo by: Asian Agri for palmoilmagazine.com

PALMOILMAGAZINE, JAKARTA – The SMallholder Inclusion for better Livelihood & Empowerment (SMILE) program, launched in 2020, has succeeded in increasing the spirit of farmers and supporting sustainable practices in the Indonesian palm oil industry.

With a focus on inclusivity and collaboration, the SMILE program successfully led three cooperatives representing 628 independent oil palm smallholders to achieve another Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Certificate at the RSPO 2023 RT Meeting in Jakarta.

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Smallholders play an important role in Indonesia’s palm oil sector and contribute significantly to the country’s total palm oil production. However, they face many challenges in meeting stringent sustainability criteria while trying to increase production.

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As independent smallholders currently account for less than 20 percent of the total certified smallholders, the challenge is clear. Recognizing the importance of overcoming these difficulties, Apical, Asian Agri and Kao partnered to launch the SMILE Program.

The SMILE Program plays a pivotal role in Asian Agri and Apical’s 2030 sustainability commitments towards inclusive growth.

Director of Sustainability Apical Group, Bremen Yong said, The SMILE Program plays an important role in providing essential training and assistance to independent smallholders, empowering them to implement sustainable practices. By focusing on inclusivity and ensuring no farmer is left behind, the program aims to raise the sustainability standards of the industry.

“We believe that sustainability is a shared responsibility and by fostering inclusivity, we can make a difference, and the only solution is through strong trust and the spirit of collaboration,” said Bremen Yong in a statement received by Palmoilmagazine.com, Wednesday (22/11/2023).

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Through the SMILE Program, independent smallholders such as Sutoyo, chairman of Anugrah Independent Palm Oil Farmers Association in Indragiri Hulu, Riau Province, who is responsible for 238 members with a total cultivated land of more than 571 hectares, have received guidance and support on the road to sustainability.

Sutoyo explains that the journey was not easy at first, as many of the members did not understand sustainability, “The mentoring efforts made by the team from the SMILE program were outstanding, helping and guiding members in every challenge they faced, and providing the best solutions to make training and audits achievable,” Sutoyo explains.

Sutoyo’s cooperative has overcome major hurdles in achieving RSPO certification, which is a testament to the commitment and mentoring provided by the program.

Meanwhile, Asian Agri’s Sustainability Head, Ivan Novrizaldie, said that with unwavering determination, Sutoyo and her cooperative implemented sustainable practices, overcame audit challenges and achieved RSPO Certification. Their achievement highlights the importance of trust and shared belief in finding solutions.

“Sutoyo’s story exemplifies the power of collaboration and collective motivation that never gives up,” Ivan said. (T3)

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