The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and the United Nations Environment Programme have signed a small-scale funding agreement (SSFA) to spend some US$283,000 to improve the livelihoods of smallholder oil palm farmers.

The funds – of which US$119,611 came from UN’s 10-Year Frameworkk of Projects (10YFP) Trust Fund and US$83,683 from RSPO – would be used to provide training to oil palm farmers in the regions of Sabah, Malaysia, and Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, both located on the island of Borneo, the RSPO said in a 16 November statement.

The organisations estimated that the programme, if successful, would improve the livelihoods of at least 50,000 schemed and independent smallholders in Sabah and more than 5,300 in Central Kalimantan.

“While RSPO has worked to support smallholders over the years, we recognise that we’ve yet to support large-scale inclusion of smallholders, which RSPO and our stakeholders desire,” said Yhanes Izmi Ryan, strategic projects director at RSPO.

“Smallholders play a significant role in the supply chain, producing around 40% of the world’s palm oil, but suffer from low yields, a lack of best management practices and ultimately struggle to achieve international market access.”

According to the RSPO, the project would help smallholders develop knowledge on good agricultural practices and other principles of sustainable agriculture, while also providing them with access to fertilisers, seeds and nursery management.

“RSPO certification has a significant impact on improving the livelihood of smallholders and interventions through this programme will be scaled up to the jurisdictional level, enabling these smallholders to achieve the certification,” Ryan added.

In Seruyan, Central Kalimantan, the project would set up an agricultural facility to provide support and training to build production capacity to more than 1,000 farmers, while in Sabah, a set of four intervention activities would be trialled in 20 villages across the region.

The project was selected for funding through the 10YFP Trust Fund’s call for proposals.

The 10YFP is a global action framework to enhance international cooperation to accelerate a shift towards sustainable consumption and production in both developing and developed nations.