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What is the Difference Between Independent and Scheme Smallholders?

Independent Smallholder   Scheme Smallholder
All smallholder farmers who are not considered Scheme Smallholders are considered Independent Smallholder farmers. In addition, the total size of their oil palm production area is smaller than or equal to 50 hectares (ha) OR smaller than or equal to the maximum size defined in a National Interpretation.
(source : RSPO ISH Standard 2019)
Smallholder farmers, landowners or their delegates who do not have:
  • the enforceable decision-making power on the operation of the land and production practices; and/or
  • the freedom to choose how they utilise their land, types of crops to plant, and how they manage them (how they organise, manage and finance the land)

(source : RSPO P&C 2018)

How do Scheme Smallholders become RSPO member?

Scheme Smallholders must be certified together with the mill with which they are associated. A list of certified supply base mills can be found here. According to the RSPO P&C certification, the certified mill shall develop and implement a plan to ensure that 100% of Scheme Smallholders and scheme outgrowers are compliant with the P&C standard within three years of the mill’s initial certification.
Should you find your certified mills on the list, please see their audit report on the Time Bound Plan (TBP) section to see their certification progress throughout the supply base. You may communicate with your supply base for further certification programmes.

How do Scheme Smallholder become RSPO Certified ?

For companies operating mills, the certification model to be followed is the certification of the mill and its supply base. Scheme smallholders must be certified using the P&C 2018 standard. However, there are two systems that they can use for certifying smallholders as presented below:
Certification Standard P&C 2018
Certification System P&C Certification Systems Group Certification
Scheme smallholders are part of the P&C Certificate of the mill Scheme smallholders and growers/mills have separate certificates
Membership Scheme Smallholders will be part of the Grower/Mill’s membership
Membership Number on Certificate Grower/Mill’s membership number
Certificate Holder Grower/Mill Grower/Mill
Group Manager Not Applicable Grower/Mill

RSPO Certification Document and Scheme Smallholder Information

Scheme Smallholders Key Documents

  • RSPO Principles & Criteria 2018
  • RSPO Certification Systems for Principles & Criteria 2020
  • Group Certification: the RSPO Management System Requirements and Guidance for Group Certification of FFB Production (supported by its accompanying FAQ document)

Guidance Document and Template for Scheme Smallholders

  • RSPO P&C: Audit Checklist for Assessing Compliance (RSPO generic audit checklist)
  • RSPO New Planting Procedure (NPP) and all relevant associated guidance
  • RSPO Remediation and Compensation Procedure (RaCP) and all relevant associated guidance

News & Announcement

  • Resolution GA18-2d to review and amend the RaCP process as applied to Scheme Smallholders
  • Applicability of the Simplified High Conservation Value (HCV) Tool Resolution GA18-2d for Smallholders in Compliance with RSPO’s NPP 2021
If you are converting from a Scheme Smallholder to an Independent Smallholder and intend to obtain RSPO Certification, you may choose to be certified against the RSPO Independent Smallholder (ISH) Standard. The ISH Standard will be applicable to Independent Smallholders in accordance with the standard's definition.