KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 13): Engaging smallholders, especially the independent oil palm smallholders, in order to meet the environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria is a difficult and lengthy process, said Dr Law Chu Chien, country manager at Solidaridad Network Asia.
This is because independent smallholders — who are not associated with any companies or mills — perform very poorly in terms of sustainability.
“These farmers are often located in remote areas and due to that, they often have poor infrastructure, especially because they are very hard to reach by road. And because of that, they have a lack of access to information [especially] in certain locations, and they engage with third-party services to maintain their production.
“It is extremely difficult to gain trust with smallholders, especially when it comes to information related to the yield which could translate to their income.
“These are the challenges that we face [when] we engage with smallholders,” said Law at the 7th International Palm Oil Sustainability Conference (IPOSC) 2022 on Tuesday (Sept 13).
His statement came after Malaysian Palm Oil Council chief executive officer Wan Aishah Wan Hamid highlighted that industry players — without sufficient technical, financial, technical and manpower support — are struggling to meet the ESG agenda.
Independent smallholders in Malaysia who have struggled to achieve 100% certification for sustainable palm oil certification schemes are now burdened with these additional sustainability requirements, noted Wan Aishah.