As demand for bio-based chemicals has surged, the global oleochemicals industry’s focus on sustainability has intensified, too. With natural fats and oils – resources in limited supply – fueling oleochemical production, the importance of sustainable sourcing cannot be understated. But beyond corporate mission statements and compliance requirements, many of us in the industry care deeply, on a personal level, about responsible sourcing to help ensure the long-term well-being of people and the communities in which we operate. In Johor State, Malaysia, the P&G Center for Sustainable Small-Owners (CSS), a partnership with Asia School of Business, is garnering acclaim for its approach to facilitating more sustainable sourcing of palm oil while enhancing farmers’ livelihoods.
With P&G’s continued support, the CSS has been an advocate for a sustainability standard that allows independent small farmers to participate in a stepwise approach to certification. The farmers receive interim rewards that help keep them engaged throughout their two- to three-year journey to full certification by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). RSPO approved this latest standard in November 2019.
In August 2021, the CSS-created independent smallholder association, PERTANIAGA, became the first independent smallholder group to achieve the RSPO Independent Smallholder Standard (RISS), with 107 farmers owning 130 farms. The CSS now has 306 RISS-certified farmers with 370 farms and aims to have 640 farmers RISS-certified in the near future. The first group of certified farmers received 100% of the RSPO premiums sold as RSPO Independent Smallholder Certificates to P&G.
Through this P&G smallholder education and training initiative, the CSS has demonstrated that there is a business case for fostering sustainability while sourcing responsibly. Furthermore, the CSS has captured significant industry attention for its groundbreaking sustainability program.
In a recent competition among 100 shortlisted posters from 13 countries, all vying for recognition at the International Oil Palm Conference, the CSS team won first place for its entry depicting the certification journey of the smallholders served by the center. The field of contenders, judged by the Indonesian Oil Palm Research Institute (IOPRI), was quite strong, with entries from several other prestigious institutions, such as Wageningen University (WU) from the Netherlands and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) from the United States – both leaders in agricultural research.
P&G will continue to invest in our acclaimed approach to smallholder education and professional development through the CSS, and in other key partnership initiatives. Our sustainability initiatives are integral components of our commitment to continue being a Force for Good.