Transformation of Task Force on Smallholders

to Smallholders Working Group

Having mandate to promote smallholder participation in the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), they set up Task Force on Smallholders (TFS) at General Assembly Resolution at the 3rd RT of the RSPO.  The TFS are also mandated to carry out diagnostic surveys of smallholders situation and views, to carry out and document trials of the application of the Principles and Criteria (P&C) with smallholders and make proposals and ascertain the suitability of the RSPO P&C for smallholders and make proposals on how best these can be adjusted nationally and/or generically to ensure favorable smallholder involvement in SPO production. The aim of the TFS was to ensure that smallholders are not marginalized from the sustainable palm oil market and are able to benefit improved standards and best practice.

Formally, the TFS was a committee which reports to the RSPO Executive Board (EB). It has been led by Sawit Watch and the Forest Peoples Programme. For the past four years, it has been guided by steering group composed of four members from each of the active National Interpretation Working Group and some other co-opted members with specialist knowledge of smallholders and willing members of the RSPO EB.  After intensive consultations, Generic Guidance for the certification of Scheme Smallholders was adopted by RSPO Board in July 2009. After further intensive consultations, in July 2010, the RSPO Board adopted Generic Guidance for the Certification of Independent Smallholders under Group Certification. At the same time a Group Certification Protocol was developed through further consultations by BioCert and ProForest.

Despite these results, smallholder participation within the RSPO system remains limited end of 2011. Several challenges need to be overcome in order to create a smallholder inclusive system. Part of the challenges is linked to the RSPO system itself, such as the standards, guidance documents, supply chain systems and incentive mechanisms. Other challenges are more related to the institutional environment in which smallholders operate, such as access to finance, access to farmer organizations and technical assistance.

To tackle these challenges the TFS has set different priorities for the coming years, however, the current TFS structure does not fit with the new RSPO structure that is organized in Taskforces (to address short term and/or specific issues), Working Groups (to address on-going issues) and Standing Committees (that oversee the work of other groups and inform the EB of developments). Consequently, it has been proposed to transform the TFS into the Smallholder Working Group.

The Smallholders Working Group Working on mandate to Support and monitor trials of the application of the RSPO Principles & Criteria with smallholders; Provide recommendation to the Secretariat/Standing Committee/ EB for approval of project(s)/ funding/ policies that have impact to the overall smallholders’ development; Ascertain the relevance and effectiveness of the RSPO Principles & Criteria and Supply Chain Systems with regards to smallholders and propose adjustments to both national and generic RSPO documents; Facilitate and support the development of global relevant smallholder knowledge base and ensure linking and learning between different countries and initiatives; and Promote the development of support mechanisms and partnerships with the aim to reduce barriers for smallholders adopt sustainable production practices and RSPO certification (e.g. funding mechanism, capacity building modules, etc). Implement decision and/or policies by the Standing Committee/ EB on projects as well as directive to work with the other Working Groups/Task Force as and when need arise; and To promote active participation of smallholders in the RSPO organization…

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