EUDR Plus: Paving the Path for Independent Smallholders Inclusivity in Deforestation-Free Practices

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Palm oil smallholder. Photo by: Sawit Fest 2021 / Fahzian Aldevan

PALMOILMAGAZINE, JAKARTA – The efficacy of the European Union Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) in curbing deforestation hinges on the active involvement of independent smallholders. Without their participation, the regulation may fall short of its intended impact.

To address this, the proposal of EUDR Plus, incorporating Independent Smallholders Inclusiveness Due Diligence (ISHIDD), becomes imperative within significant segments of EUDR.

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The challenges with EUDR do not stem from the overarching goal of halting deforestation; rather, they arise from concerns surrounding forest areas in Indonesia. The issues surrounding EUDR are compounded by the potential repercussions for the approximately 3 million independent smallholders reliant on palm oil.

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These smallholders face various challenges, including legal issues, land data discrepancies, limited GPS access, and constrained information accessibility, all of which could distance them from participating in the palm oil trade with Europe.

Getting rid of them would raise new issue for forest sustainability because the smallholders are the closest party with the forests which mean, smallholders are the closest party about forest damages, and in one side, they are also the closest to forest protection. Leaving them is not the option if EUDR is about to stop deforestation.

It is not certification system just like Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) or Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. But it should be taken as certification systems that become the tools to control, limit damages. Involving independent smallholders is a must to make sure that EUDR would be the cleaning ‘tool’ for European consumers but be the tool to prevent deforestation in palm oil producer countries.

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In order to confirm that EUDR would not put them aside, it needs transformation to get due diligence and involve smallholders through ISHIDD (Independent Smallholders Inclusiveness Due Diligent). ISHIDD is the ways to confirm every producer country, companies, to put independent smallholders to be parts of their supply chain. Some models of smallholders’ inclusivity to be considered in EUDR are:

The operator would deliver palm oil import priority that smallholders produced, at least, 20% of total volume. By conducting it, the big companies would try to involve them in their supply chain – base and confirm their supply chain – base derived from traceable and legal smallholders. This is the way to encourage the responsibility of the big companies to encourage and support smallholders.

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If European Union gets its priority from what smallholders produced, this would encourage big companies to proactively involve independent smallholders. Besides, this would encourage the government to get significant things by publishing regulations in local and national scales to encourage the good relation between the companies and the smallholders.

It means, EUDR Plus would deliver impacts not only to stop deforestation but also the relation improvement between the companies and independent smallholders, market guarantee for smallholders, support access, information which eventually would deliver good income and sources for independent smallholders. (*)

By: Rukaiyah Rafiq/Head of Secretariat Forum Petani Kelapa Sawit Berkelanjutan Indonesia (Fortasbi)

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