The Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has released its 2017 impact update, reporting an increase in total number of certified farms but a decrease in the number of certified smallholders.

In the report, RSPO said that as of 30 June 2017, 3.2M ha of oil palm plantations in 16 countries were certified by the organisation, marking a 14% increase over the last reporting period.

Indonesia and Malaysia topped the list of most hectares certified, but other countries had been making progress in this regard, RSPO said, with a 10% increase in grower membership.

In South America, RSPO certified plantation area increased by 11%, while African farmers certified an additional 22,773ha – a relatively small number but marking a 70% increase within Africa.

In general membership, RSPO reported growth of 16%, with the number of members increasing to 3,422 compared with a year ago.

The association noted that support for smallholders, who played a significant role in global palm oil supply chain, was lacking and more needed to be done to help them farm the plant in a sustainable manner.

By mid-2016, the report noted, smallholders produced 40% of the global palm oil supply, but there had been a 12% decrease in the number of RSPO certified smallholders since the last report, with more specific statistics of a 38% and 25% decrease in Indonesia and Thailand, respectively.

RSPO explained the drop in number by the expiration of the licenses of seven independent smallholder groups in the two countries during the reporting period.

To address the issue of lacking smallholder support, the RSPO finalised its Smallholder Strategy during the reporting period, which aimed to create a supportive environment for smallholders to achieve sustainable livelihoods.