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13 Years ISPO Implementation: 0,3% Certification for Smallholders: Regulation Should Realize Fairness

Doc. of InfoSAWIT/The speakers in panel discussion and press conference in Jakarta on Wednesday (3/4/2024).
13 Years ISPO Implementation: 0,3% Certification for Smallholders: Regulation Should Realize Fairness

InfoSAWIT, JAKARTA - Since 2011, the Government of Indonesia has published policy to develop sustainable (palm oil) plantations. The policies are the Regulation of Minister of Agriculture (RMA) Number 19 / 2011 about Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil Guidelines. In 2015, it got nomenclature change through RMA Number 11 / 2015 about Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil/ISPO Certification System. The commitment was reinforced by President’s Regulation (PR) Number 44 / 2020 about ISPO Certification System and RMA Number 38 / 2020 about ISPO Implementation.

For almost 13 years, ISPO has been encouraged to be implemented by every planter, including independent smallholders. But ISPO certification achievement for smallholders has been low in numbers, or only 81 certificates with the total plantations about 60.235,58 hectares from the total smallholders’ plantations that laid on about 6,94 million hectares.

Besides encouraging sustainable cultivation implementation, ISPO certification should actually become integral part to protect and empower the smallholders and the regional governments should have the obligation and responsibility to deliver guarantee for them to get ISPO certificate by delivering development, counseling, education, training, financial, marketing, and information accesses easily.

Moreover, the smallholders’ plantation typology which is various should be the variable which is negated into the regulation and ISPO certification institution. It tends for them to get access and makes slower to realize ISPO certificate achievement.

In fact, the variety needs protection and empowerment which are adjustable with their own characteristic. That is why, it is important to know the factual typology of smallholders in this country because they have some characteristics, for instance, traditional smallholders from their tradition in planting rubber/farming that turned to be planting palm oil (plantation); the farmers (smallholders) that have less than 25 hectares but have access to mill by hiring small or big scale labors; farmers (smallholders) that have more than 25 hectares but not be categorized as company; smallholders that do not live in a village or around the plantations; smallholders that did not have plan to develop (palm oil plantations) or sporadically depended on their capital. These kinds of smallholders might have no group, get lower human resources, unseen/not planted, not have data about their plantations, and be illegal.

That is why Serikat Petani KelapaSawit (SPKS) thought, the smallholders are various. That is why ISPO certification needs to adapt with them. The regulation or certification standards need changes which are adjustable with gap level in the smallholders themselves.

Certification for all

13 years of ISPO implementation just realized 0,3% for smallholders. Actually in 2025, it should cover almost 100% for every planter because the government targeted that in the period, ISPO certificate is mandatory. That is why it massively and innovatively needs actions by implementing big scale certification system by having jurisdiction approach. SPKS thought the (jurisdiction) approach would accelerate ISPO certification namely for smallholders.

Certification system could not answer the challenges that smallholders are facing namely those who are not in group which the numbers might be about 70% of their plantations that laid on 6,9 million hectares. SPKS also mentioned that to solve this issue, there should be institution in regional level, such as regional government because this institution gets the access to manage palm oil profit sharing and fund from Palm Oil Plantation Fund Management Agency. Regional government has access to the central government and has bureaucracy and political infrastructures that are completed and be considered to have compatibility to mobilze ISPO certification in smallholders’ level. By having jurisdiction approach, there would be massive smallholders to get ISPO certification.

ISPO certification is very complicated to be implemented by the smallholders who live in 16.500 villages in Indonesia, for instance, they have to establish group in the first place in each village, get data, training, development, deal with area legal, deal with the institutioin, and should socialize (their institution). The process would take some time and it is very complicated. The regulation should simplify it, accommodate big scale certification approach with jurisdiction approach so that the smallholders would get ISPO certificate easily.

As smallholders’ organization, SPKS keeps doing its best to organize independent smallholders and do training about the best and sustainable practices. Then SPKS would encourage to get multiparty – collaboration, including with the government, non-government organizations, plantation companies, smallholders and the people would cooperate to implement ISPO principles and criteria by having jurisdiction approach.

Chairman of SPKS, Sabarudin said that it is essential to get ISPO fund access more for the smallholders. He thought, the access should not limit to the planters but also the organizations, such as, SPKS that has polygon or partnership with smallholders’ partnership. He told it in a public discussion and press conference that SPKS conducted on Wednesday (3/4/2024) in Jakarta.

Sabarudin also mentioned that SPKS has about 20 thousand members (independent smallholders) in 15 regencies. Unfortunately, they face issues when they wanted to get ISPO certification process, such as, financial. They have no fund enough.

“Unfortunately, the government does not pay attention to the financial issue namely when the smallholders in many locations, such as, in Regency of Sanggau wanted to get it. About 1000 smallholders want to implement ISPO certification process,” he said.

The smallholders in Sanggau have maps (of their plantations), cultivation documents and other terms and conditions to get certification process. Sabarudin mentioned, 12 unions are ready to implement ISPO certification and have qualified administrative terms and condition. But they face financial issue.

It means, getting more financial access in ISPO certification process would be essential to make sure that the smallholders, including those joining organizations, such as, SPKS, would easily join the process. This would help not only in the sustainability but also in supporting Indonesia to promote sustainable palm oil product in the globe.

Meanwhile, Director of Plantation Product Marketing and Process, Prayudi Syamsuri told that ISPO certificate achievement is still left behind because it just covered 5,6 million hectares, or about 37,08 percent. That is why to solve the issue, the main focus should be about to escalate (the roles of) institutions in this industry.

He also mentioned that his institution is committed to reinforce institution to face the challenge(s) to get more ISPO certificate. In this context, he asked for PFMA to deliver financial support to get cultivation document. The groups of smallholders that have been implementing ISPO certification process should get registered according to the infrastructure program.

To optimize fund use, Prayudi emphasized that it is important to propose efficient and right targets. The process would be directly supervised by related parties to confirm the smoothness and effectiveness.

He also said that it is significant to discuss and revise ISPO implementation. It should be about palm oil downstream aspect and adjusting ISPO status to be mandatory or voluntary.

“The regulation revision process by Ministry of Agriculture should accelerate the solution and ISPO could be implemented more effectively and much larger. Assessment model would be perfect more to minimize the spent and accelerate ISPO certification process and the burden in PFMA would be less and be diverted to other unions,” Prayudi said.

Director of Fund Rising PFMA, Sunari emphasized that ISPO is significant as the main identity in Indonesia’s palm oil industries as the sustainable actors. He also told that it is irrelevant to compare ISPO and RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) or vice versa. "Let us have our identity and be sustainable through Indonesian version (ISPO). We only follow every policy published,” he said.

Sunari also explained that PFMA delivered fund to get certification through Infrastructure Legalization or Legalisasi Sarana (LS). But the approach changed. PFMA would improve the process by reinforcing smallholders to start ISPO certification process. His side would keep encouraging the inisiative because ISPO is principally wants to keep developing. “Developing is not only the responsibility of the government. Now we would deliver trainings for smallholders about ‘infrastructure legalization before they would get ISPO (certification process). We would encourage them to adopt ISPO,” he emphasized.

By having the new approach, it is hoped that more smallholders would involve in ISPO certification process and palm oil industries in Indonesia would escalate its sustainability standards and become the main actor in the markets globally that respect sustainability principles. What PFMA would do should accelerate the transformation in Indonesia’s palm oil industries heading to more sustainable and environmental future.

Bernadinus Steni Sugiarto of Kaleka mentioned that the financial issue in certification process may have solution if the smallholders that are joining the process are in massive numbers. From the previous experiences, if 500 smallholders joined the process, it would spend US$ 170 per hectare. But if 2.000 smallholders joined the process, it would spend only less than US$ 50 per hectare.

Steni thought, it is crucial to escalate capacity, map, establish organization, and legality to maintain the sustainability in palm oil industries. These aspects should be supported by the government and coordinated by the local authority.

In big scale ISPO certification process, it needs to be efficient maximally. That is why jurisdiction approach would be the key to implement the audit. The regional government plays important roles to lead/manage the process by involving other stakeholders, such as, the officials, NGO, industries, and smallholders. The collaboration would support one to another among the stakeholders and confirm that the implementation would be sustainable and holistic.

Then, he continued that the incentive would be important part to encourage the active participation and involvement from these parties. One party that would significantly get the advantage is the smallholders.

“By having jurisdiction approach, the companies in the region would collaborate and support one to another. The regional government is in charge to facilitate the cooperation by delivering facilitated needed,” he said. (T2)