Improving smallholder inclusiveness in palm oil production: A global review
This review (PDF) written by Tropenbos International and Wageningen University & Research brings together 19 articles and 5 interviews from around the world that look at means of improving smallholder inclusiveness in palm oil production. The nine key-lessons learned are: 1) “Inclusiveness” is interpreted in different ways and a common definition is needed. This range of interpretations leads to different approaches and measures of success, and to difficulties in how to compare them. 2) Empowering smallholders is an essential prerequisite for increased inclusiveness. This is achieved through cooperatives, training, and external support from extension services, NGOs and companies, as well as support from governments that promotes enabling conditions. 3) Increased uptake of certification schemes is correlated with improved smallholder inclusiveness. Challenges remain, however, in upscaling certification (RSPO and organic), especially for independent producers. 4) Smallholders benefit when they can take on more roles in the supply chain (e.g. co-owning mills). In doing so they gain decision-making power and increase their share in the benefits generated in the value chain. 5) Diversifying livelihood options through intercropping or other means is important for smallholders. The benefits of intercropping are supported by research, but more evidence is needed to identify appropriate crops, systems and markets. 6) Companies must consider smallholder producers more as partners and co-investors. This requires truly transparent, reciprocal and participatory processes and regular consultation, not just a nominal “seat at the table” or one-off meetings. 7) Build trusting relationships with smallholders is crucial, and patience is paramount. For effective partnerships, smallholders must be involved from the outset and through every step of the process. Engagement must be long term. 8) Inclusive palm oil production requires innovative technological and business models. However, current models rarely address both, and further integration is required. 9) Policies at all levels have key roles in creating enabling conditions to stimulate inclusive businesses. Local, national and international policymakers all have important contributions to make.