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Thai Smallholders – Introducing the Idea of RSPO sustainable palm oil cultivation
Just over two per cent of all agricultural land in Thailand is given over to palm oil production, which equates to approximately 17.49 tonnes of palm oil per hectare of land per year. Of those growing palm fruit, 76 per cent are independent smallholders. It’s this statistic that sets Thailand apart from other key producers such as Malaysia and Indonesia, where the majority of PO and PKO is produced on large commercial plantations.
Since its inception in 2008, the RSPO and its member organisations have been working to help these independent smallholders understand the importance of sustainable cultivation and how they can access a route to market for their sustainable products. Often these smallholders are family-owned and run operations, with only small plantations and limited resources. Their fruit is sold to the nearest mill, which usually mixes the palm oil from all of the local plantations, meaning that segregation is more of a challenge.
Since 2009, GreenPalm, in conjunction with the RSPO, BSI and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ), has been working with a group of over 400 Independent smallholders in Thailand to help them understand the need to cultivate palm fruit more sustainably and see how attaining the RSPO certification standard could benefit their businesses.
By implementing the RSPO standard the smallholders have experienced an increase in yields, double in some cases. The groups have really benefited financially from their increased production. Another reward is the financial payment received from the sale of GreenPalm certificates to an international brand. These rewards are passed onto the community that prides itself in protecting their local environment.
Globally Thailand is the 3rd largest producer of palm oil, producing 1.5 million tonnes in 2011 - 70% of which is produced by indpendent smallholders.
Thai Smallholders discuss RSPO Certification