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What is Smallholder?

Smallholders are farmers who grow oil palm alongside subsistence crops, where the family provides the majority of labour, the farm provides the principal source of income, and the planted oil palm area is less than 50 hectares。

(source: RSPO P&C 2018)

What Smallholders Matter?

Today, more than 3 million smallholders make a living from oil palm globally. In Malaysia and Indonesia alone, smallholder production represents approximately 40% of the total oil palm plantation area
Compared to industrial plantations, smallholder plantations are small-scale and the planted oil palm area is less than 50 hectares. Under RSPO certification, smallholders can grow oil palm independently, as part of an Independent Smallholder Group or as part of a Smallholder Scheme. They have the potential to make a significant impact in RSPO’s shared mission to transform oil palm production and procurement into a sustainable industry. However, smallholders face many challenges on the ground, from insufficient start-up support to low yields.
It is typical for family members to undertake the majority of labour and for the planted oil palm area to be the principal source of income
Smallholder plantations are small compared to industrial plantations, and can range from one to 50 hectares (HA) of land
More than 3 mil smallholders famers make a living from palm oil globally

RSPO Smallholder Strategy

RSPO recognises the importance of smallholders and the need to include more smallholders in RSPO’s certification systems.Underpinned by the RSPO Smallholder Strategy, the RSPO Smallholder Programme seeks to increase market access for smallholders, increase smallholder inclusion and support livelihood improvement.

Benefit to Smallholders

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Improved Management Practice

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Increased Yield and Access to Markets

Better Quality Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFB)

Strengthening Partnership

Learn how Smallholders can become members of RSPO


Smallholder Certification In Numbers

Independent Smallholders
Scheme Smallholders
Total Smallholders
Independent Smallholders Certified Production Area (ha)
Scheme Smallholders Certified Production Area (ha)
Total Smallholders Certified Area (ha)
Independent Smallholders FFB Certified (mt)
Scheme Smallholders FFB Certified (mt)
Total Smallholders FFB Certified (mt)
Total Global Certified Area (ha)
Average Yield (FBB mt/ha/yr)
Total Global Certified CSPO (mt)
Total SH CSPO (based on 20% EOR)
No. of Certified Independent Smallholder Groups
% Total SH Certified Area (against global certified area) ha
% of SH CSPO (against global certified volume) mt
AS OF XX/XX/2021


How can you Support Smallholders?

Empowering smallholder farmers and engaging them in sustainable supply chains is essential to making the palm oil market more sustainable.
Smallholders need assistance from third parties to strengthen their capacity to obtain their RSPO Independent Smallholder (ISH) certification. Downstream players such as Consumer Goods Manufacturers or retailers should support these efforts.
You can offer your support for the inclusion of smallholders in the sustainable supply chain by purchasing RSPO Smallholders Credits, which continues to sharpen its focus on environmental and social sustainability in smallholders’ oil palm management.
If your organisation is available to assist smallholder groups in need of advice, please register on our RSPO Smallholder Engagement Platform (ADD HYPERLINK) today.


Smallholder Standing Committee - Governance

In 2018, RSPO Board of Governors (BoG) endorsed the RSPO Theory of Change (ToC) with the overall vision of making sustainable palm oil the norm.
In March 2019, the RSPO BoG subsequently endorsed the RSPO Governance Review for ‘Reorganisation of Standing Committees, Task Forces and Working Groups’. The Standard Setting Committee was established to provide the direction and contribute to the RSPO standard settings, which may include, but not limited to, the development and/or revision of normative and relevant guidance documents for RSPO members.

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