With 40% of global palm oil produced by smallholders, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has adopted a new smallholder standard to make certification more inclusive.

The Independent Smallholder (ISH) Standard applies to ‘independent’ farmers who have the power to choose what is planted on their land of less than 50ha, as opposed to farmers connected to a miller or company, according to food.navigator.com.

It was adopted on 6 November during the RSPO Annual General Assembly and will give smallholders three years to achieve RSPO certification in a phased scheme.

During the first ‘eligibility phase’, farmers would learn about certification and be trained in sustainable farming methods, food.navigator.com wrote. They would then have two years to progress to the second, interim Milestone A phase. After this, smallholders had one year to move towards full compliance or Milestone B.

In order to incentivise smallholders, they would be allowed to sell 40% of their volume as credits during the first phase, 70% on reaching Milestone A and 100% as credits or in a physical supply chain at Milestone B.

“Credit trading is a virtual model which connects smallholders with consumer goods manufacturers, brands and retailers, without having to wait for their buyers to be certified,” food.navigator.com wrote.

As of June 2019, a total of just 146,133 smallholder farmers had achieved RSPO certification, the news site added. Smallholders found it harder to become certified because of the costs and lack of knowledge and training.