Smallholder integration with ISCC
Sustainability certification matters for independent smallholders (ISH)
Deforestation, biodiversity loss and social issues are ongoing problems, often connected to the cultivation of different kinds of agricultural feedstock such as e.g. oil palm.
Sustainability of agricultural feedstock is therefore still a major topic in order to address these pressing issues and is more and more becoming a prerequisite for market acceptance as more and more companies are committed to sourcing sustainable and deforestation-free material. The Resolution of the European Parliament blaming palm for deforestation, habitat degradation and human rights abuses and calling for a ban on imported palm oil by 2020 further intensifies the situation. A clear strategic positioning of palm towards sustainability and the intensification of joint efforts of all relevant stakeholders to deliver to their promise is needed.
As the major growth area lies within smallholders who depend on selling their agricultural products for their livelihoods but who often face problems of low yields, little income and lack of market access, the only option they see to increase their income is to expand into forested areas. It is therefore necessary to provide the right incentives by connecting improved quality and market access with increased productivity. If agricultural feedstock is grown sustainably, it can contribute to environmental protection and social welfare (see figure 1).
Figure 1: Sustainability certification matters for smallhoders
A major challenge for ISH is usually to achieve sustainability certification due to lack of knowledge and financial resources, which should be addressed through capacity building measurement, good agricultural practice (GAP) training and access to capital.
To reach the above-mentioned outcomes, ISCC provides innovative tools and trainings that enable a more credible, more effective and less costly certification process, making smallholder certification possible.
But sustainability and deforestation challenges cannot be tackled by certification only. Some ISH are non-certifiable due to e.g deforestation activities in or after 2008 or illegal activities.
Not being able to get ISCC certification does not necessarily have to be the worst case. What is more important in order to further develop a region is to increase transparency to identify potential starting points for improvement. Certifying plantations that are located in critical areas by means of compensation for deforestation activities does not solve the problem of deforestation and does not provide the right incentives. Therefore, to achieve sustainable and traceable supply chains, companies need to go beyond certification, using the ISCC Landscape Approach.