Global agribusiness Cargill, together with the international NGO Solidaridad and Colombian trading company CI Biocosta SA, launched a new palm oil smallholder sustainability programme in Colombia on 7 June.

Aimed at improving agricultural practices and farmer livelihoods, the two-year project – Cargill’s first sustainable palm oil initiative in Latin America – would strengthen cooperation with more than 480 palm farmers through training and technical assistance, Cargill said in a statement.

The involved farmers in northwestern Colombia would receive direct training and support on good agricultural practices and improved farm management techniques.

“Our goal is to stimulate inclusion of Colombian farmers in the global palm oil market, boosting their livelihoods and establishing best practices in sustainable agriculture,” said Robert Horster, global trading director at Cargill’s Edible Oils Solutions.

The programme would promote the adoption of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO)’s principles and criteria in collaboration with Solidaridad and Biocosta, which forms Cargill’s supplier base for producers and mills.

According to the company, the three partners’ mutual work would enable smallholders to increase their productivity, profitability and market access with sustainable practices and eco-label certification.

“The participation of international buyers, like Cargill, in this kind of initiative is key to fostering sustainability in the palm oil supply chain and advocating for changes in the sector,” said Solidaridad Colombia’s palm oil programme manager Maria Goretti Esquivel.

Additionally, the trio said they would conduct a social and environmental impact study to evaluate high conservation land and assess deforestation risks to better integrate the farmers into sustainable supply chains.

Palm oil is Colombia’s third largest cultivated crop, after coffee and bananas, and Biocosta is one of the country’s largest palm oil exporter, overseeing more than 700 farmers who account for nearly 50% of palm oil production in the country’s northern regions.