SMILE Program Achievements in Independent Smallholder Assistance and RSPO Certificate

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Doc. palmoilmagazine.com / from left: Ivan Novrizaldie, Sustainability Head of Asian Agri, Bremen Yong, Director of Sustainability Apical Group and Sutoyo, independent smallholders

PALMOILMAGAZINE, JAKARTA – Smallholders have a very important role in the palm oil sector in Indonesia and contribute significantly to the country’s total palm oil production. However, smallholders face various challenges in meeting strict sustainability criteria while trying to increase production. This challenge is all the more apparent as independent smallholders currently account for less than 20 percent of the total certified smallholders.

To solve this difficulty, Apical, Asian Agri and Kao collaborated to launch the SMILE (SMallholder Inclusion for better Livelihood & Empowerment) Program in 2020. The program has been successful in boosting smallholder morale and supporting sustainable practices in Indonesia’s palm oil industry.

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With a focus on inclusivity and collaboration, the program is proud to announce the achievement of its third cooperative receiving a Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) Certificate at the RSPO 2023 RT Meeting in Jakarta. This success involves a total of 628 independent smallholders from the certified program, creating a continued positive impact in the drive towards sustainability and increased palm oil production.

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Bremen Yong, Director of Sustainability Apical Group said, The SMILE program is not just about the positive impact we have achieved, but also the collaborative efforts fostered across the supply chain. Sutoyo’s success epitomizes the importance of SMILE’s ongoing efforts to ensure that smallholder farmers are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to ensure sustainable good agricultural practices.

“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 a spirit of collaboration,” Bremen emphasized.

Ivan Novrizaldie, Sustainability Head of Asian Agri said that the SMILE Program plays a very important role in Asian Agri and Apical’s 2030 sustainability commitments towards inclusive growth. Through the SMILE Program, independent smallholders like Sutoyo, chairman of the Anugrah Independent Smallholders Association in Indragiri Hulu, Riau Province, responsible for 238 members with a total cultivated area of more than 571 hectares, have received guidance and support in their journey towards sustainability. Sutoyo’s cooperative has overcome major hurdles to achieve RSPO certification, which is a testament to the commitment and mentoring provided by the program.

“Sutoyo’s story exemplifies the power of collaboration and collective motivation, with unwavering determination, Sutoyo and his cooperative implemented sustainable practices, overcame audit challenges, and achieved RSPO Certification. Their achievement highlights the importance of trust and shared belief in finding solutions,” Ivan said.

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Sutoyo explained that the journey was not easy at first, as many of his members did not understand sustainability, but 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 the training and audit achievable.

The SMILE program is instrumental 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.

Meanwhile, RSPO Head of Smallholders Program Indonesia, Guntur Cahyo Prabowo said that RSPO fully encourages and supports SMILE collaboration among palm oil supply chain actors in improving the capacity of independent smallholders in Indonesia.

“This leading initiative offers a significant business model that contributes to our collective aspiration of empowering smallholders to improve livelihoods and increasing the inclusion of independent smallholders to achieve fully sustainable palm oil,” Guntur said.

For information, as the SMILE Program enters its third phase, it remains committed to its mission of empowering independent smallholders and promoting sustainable practices in the Indonesian palm oil industry. Through continuous mentoring, training, and collaboration, the program aims to uplift more cooperatives, enabling them to achieve RSPO Certification and contribute to a resilient and sustainable palm oil sector. (T3)

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