RSPO is currently supporting several local initiatives to develop a system to support certification at a jurisdictional level for the sustainable production of palm oil. This approach is expected to lower the entry barrier for smallholders to participate in the sustainable palm oil supply chain through wider multi-stakeholder collaboration, reduced transaction costs, and provision of government support. It is currently being piloted at the sub-national level in both Malaysia and Indonesia

Palm Oil Smallholder Farmer explained how to identified level of ripeness of palm oil fruit and when the best time to harvest at Heart of Borneo Annual Event in Telupid, Sabah organized by Forever Sabah.

Implemented in

  • Asia / Pacific
  • Indonesia
  • Malaysia

Sustainability themes
Food systems, Agriculture and fishery, Poverty eradication

Sector of activity
Scientific Research, Development and Innovation

Type of initiative
Capacity Building & Implementation, Education & Awareness Raising

Type of lead actor
Civil society

283294 US$

Start date

End date

Shared by

Yohanes Izmi Ryan

Strategic Project Director

Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil

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This project is to increase the capacity of smallholders to adopt agricultural practices that improve productivity while reducing negative environmental and social impacts. This will be achieved through a variety of pilot initiatives, which include facilitating the capacity building on best management practices (BMPs) for the smallholders, developing formal agricultural curriculum on BMPs, engaging mills to conduct agricultural extension programmes and conducting learning exchanges between the two project sites. The outputs from these pilots will be scaled up at the jurisdictional level to be implemented state-wide in Sabah, Malaysia and district-wide in Seruyan, Indonesia.

In Sabah, the project will trial a set of four intervention activities with approximately 2,000 smallholders in 20 selected villages in the Telupid, Tongod, Beluran and Kinabatangan districts (TTBK). This region has been selected because it represents a wide range of circumstances for a large concentration of smallholders; furthermore there are many on-going activities in the TTBK area upon which to build. At the end of the funding period, a plan for full implementation of smallholder interventions throughout the state will be crafted based on the experiences from the TTBK trials.

The local government of Seruyan, as well smallholder farmers there have shown a firm commitment to working towards jurisdictional certification. The project will support the establishment of an Agricultural Facility to support all smallholders in the district. The purpose of the Agricultural Facility is to ultimately provide direct support and training for capacity building for 1,000 smallholder oil palm farmers. The project proposed here would develop rigorously researched model for the Facility, and establish a train-the-trainer program for 100 farmers who will later upscale the program to train 1,000 farmers.


The project just started in October 2017, with conducting smallholder need assessment in TTBK areas after receiving approval from communities and local government through Free, Prior, Inform and Consent (FPIC) mechanism. The assessment activity will be completed in November 2017. Along with this assessment, the village committees also established in each village as a focal point for capacity building and resource management program. It expected all villages have this committee by January 2018. The need assessment also will give input on effectiveness existing agronomic extension model and intervention required to improve it.

Simulant with this assessment, the team also conduct consultation with plantation and mill in TTBK areas in order to establish a link between mill-smallholder for capacity building on BMP programme.

The team is conducting a study and evaluate best business and management model to run this facility. In order to build a good agricultural facility center which matches smallholder need, a focus group discussion involving local and national experts will be held in December 2017.

Impact and Results

The success of this project will result in the improved livelihoods for at least 50,000 schemed and independent smallholders in Sabah and 5,311 independent smallholders in Seruyan. The interventions would also be scaled up to the jurisdictional level and enable all the smallholders to achieve certification. Further, RSPO is developing a jurisdictional certification system for palm oil production with global applicability and thus can further expand the adaptation and adoption of the project outputs in other regions.

Next steps and how to get involved

Smallholders have big issues and challenges in manage their plantation and improve their livelihood and achieve the sustainable standard. RSPO aware on this situation, toward RSPO Smallholder Strategy which endorsed on June 2017 (available at, the organization is open to collaborate and coordinate with any organization who have similar concern and vision in supporting and helping smallholder toward sustainability journey. This is the spirit of collaboration with UN Environment Project, Forever Sabah, INOBU, Government of Sabah State and Government of Seruyan district in this program. Any interested stakeholder can contact RSPO for further information or for the specific location direct to Forever Sabah (Sabah - Malaysia) and INOBU (Seruyan, Central Kalimantan - Indonesia).