It’s paying off for oil palm farmers

Agreement for even more sustainable palm oil. Deputy Primary Industries Minister, Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin (centre, in white) witnessed the exchange of agreement between the director-general of the Malaysian Palm Oil Board, Dr Ahmad Parveez Ghulam Kadir (right) and Dr Reza Azmi, founder-director of Wild Asia (left). Standing behind Shamsul is Juli (in black).

KAMPAR: More than 300 oil palm smallholders in Perak were awarded sustainability certification after months of hard work to comply with the requirements to be globally recognised as sustainable palm oil producers.

Yesterday, 335 independent smallholders who voluntarily participated in the Wild Asia Group Scheme (WAGS) became the first group of smallholders to receive both the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) and Roundtable Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certifications.

Of the group, 58 farmers are the first Orang Asli independent smallholders, making it a special moment for the industry as they are now RSPO-MSPO certified.

Wild Asia is a Malaysia-based social enterprise that works to help change the way consumers, businesses and traders operate so that they can leave a positive footprint on the world, be it in agriculture or tourism.

In turn, WAGS is a strategy to include and support small producers in the global market by working with global palm oil suppliers to solve problems associated with the opacity of the palm oil supply chain, and to reduce the environmental and social risks for the global users of palm oil.

The certifications and special awards to recognise outstanding farmers were handed out by Deputy Primary Industries Minister Datuk Seri Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin in the presence of the Malaysian Palm Oil Certification Council chief executive officer Chew Jit Seng, Malaysian Palm Oil Board director-general Dr Ahmad Parveez Ghulam Kadir, and stakeholders from RSPO Malaysia and Cargill Malaysia, a major purchaser of sustainably produced palm oil. Also in attendance was Orang Asli Development Department director-general Prof Dr Juli Edo.

In his speech, Shamsul said that WAGS is playing an important role in getting smallholders up to speed in the adoption of MSPO, which is mandatory for all growers here by the end of the year.

“As many smallholders lack the technical know-how and skills to farm the sustainable way, the role of technical partners and enablers such as Wild Asia is important. I would also like to congratulate companies such as Cargill Malaysia, Tian Siang Air Kuning, Teik Joo Chan Sdn Bhd, Sawit Langkap Sdn Bhd (mills around Kampar) for their role in supporting sustainable palm oil.

“This collaboration across multiple stakeholders is needed to drive the mass adoption of palm oil certification, ” said Shamsul, who also visited the plots of several model smallholders around Kampung Chenderong Balai near here.

He revealed that as of end September, only 6%, or 62,600ha of 979,900ha of smallholder plots in Malaysia are MSPO-compliant. In Perak, only 5.5% or 6,855ha out of 125,000ha are MSPO-certified.

“And even then, a majority of these MSPO-compliant smallholders are beneficiaries of the Malaysian Palm Oil Board’s Sustainable Palm Oil Cluster scheme, ” said Shamsul in underscoring the urgency for various stakeholders to step up the pace of MSPO adoption.

“Although the country contributed 26.8% of the global palm oil production in 2018, lots of work still needs to be done to ensure the industry embraces sustainability, ” he added.

At the event, Shamsul also witnessed an exchange of agreement between MPOB and Wild Asia to further strengthen the public-private collaboration in streamlining efforts in creating a sustainable palm oil industry.

Source: The Star

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