Welcome to Kampung Monopod, where Bunge Loders Croklaan held its last socialization visit as part of our smallholder program in collaboration with Kerry Group and Fortuna POM on 17 November 2018. The event was attended by close to 50 farmers.
The visit took place right after the end of RSPO RT16, which allowed many of us to put things into clear perspective about sustainability for smallholders. What does sustainability entail for a smallholder farmer?
There is a vast difference between farmer yields in comparison to large estate yields, a difference of above 200%. There is a major opportunity to address this and this is exactly what we are aiming to accomplish by this program.
We presented our established framework on a soil rehabilitation and fertilizer program to farmers – a concise program to increase yields of farmers that would eventually elevate their living standards. The program aims to roll out an effective system that includes data gathering on agricultural practice, plot based soil and foliar sampling by trained agronomist, a formulated bio-fertilizer/compost based on results of the lab tests, and a roll out program that encourages participation by farmers in the program on a long-term basis.
We are now in the midst of finalizing a collaboration with IOI Group to provide the agronomy service and assistance on the ground on educating farmers on good agricultural practice, while Kerry Group will heavily subsidize the bio-fertilizers/compost.
We envisage that this approach will not only allow farmers to increase their standard of living via increased yields, but also introduce efficient and correct agricultural practice that will equip them to meet upcoming certification requirements.
In the closing speech at RT16 it was feared that with the passing of the revised Principles and Criteria, the RSPO certification will be seen as a gold standard and industry laggards will remain, well, laggards. There are no doubts that smallholders are falling far behind. Therefore, it is imperative that the industry looks into pairing efforts to increase farmer yields effectively with certification efforts on the ground.
At the moment of sharing this story, the number of actively engaged smallholders is 103. The next step is to conduct soil and leaf analyses for the engaged farmers in order to provide agronomic input to help improve farm production. And also to reach out to more farmers from different areas.