Independent Smallholder Certification
The Berbak Green Prosperity Partnership Project
The Berbak Green Prosperity Partnership in Jambi is a project which has been set up to deliver sustainable management of the Berbak landscape through a low-carbon, inclusive economic growth model by supporting thousands of smallholders located in this and neighbouring areas to enhance the sustainability in the palm oil sector and to avoid further agricultural expansion into forested and peatland areas. The project was co-funded by MCA Indonesia with program management by Euroconsult Mott MacDonald and several implementing organisations such as SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, Meo Carbon Solutions, Indonesian Universities and local civil society organisations working together to achieve the above goal.
One of the deliverables to be achieved within this program is the ISCC group certification of about 1,600 independent smallholders (ISH). These independent smallholders are the first ones receiving an ISCC certificate. For this purpose an entire new certification program was developed which takes the specifics of independent smallholders into account and reduces the costs and efforts for becoming certified without reducing environmental and social sustainability requirements.
Core objectives of the project were that the supply chain is fully traceable back to the point of origin and that fresh fruit bunches (FFBs) do not come from deforested areas. The requirement of full traceability back to the origin rules out already any kind of book & claim approach and requires a chain of custody based on mass balance or segregation. This directly implies that it is not possible to sell any kind of book & claim certificates, which in some cases is an attractive option for smallholders to generate additional income. The no deforestation (and no compensation) requirement is raised easily. However, how to evaluate compliance of the land of 1,600 ISH? Beside these challenges a variety of other issues were detected during the duration of the project where it became obvious that individual ISH were not able to comply with ISCC requirements and even with intense capacity building the chance to comply in the future were anticipated to be low. Therefore alternative solutions had to be developed in order to overcome these barriers but still achieve compliance for smallholders.
In the following some of the solutions to overcome barriers are explained in some more detail. Within ISCC the verification of principle 1 criteria and the related risk analysis is a complex task, which already challenges professional organisations. Therefore ISCC decided to facilitate this process and to support provision of the data (which is necessary for an audit) to the ISH. For this the information generated by the GRAS-Tool was used.
Figure 1: Smallholder region in Jambi province analysed for ISCC certification
GRAS is an innovative and comprehensive web tool, which offers information about ecological and social sustainability and land use change. The GRAS analysis included a check on overlapping of smallholder plantations with protected areas, areas with high carbon stock, peatlands as well as high conservation value (HCV) areas. Furthermore, it was analysed whether illegitimate land use change has taken place between 2008 and today. Social information on subnational level and internationally recognized social indices on a country base have also been taken into account. Though figure 2 shows some minor vegetation losses, no significant deforestation in or after January 2008 has been detected in any of the investigated areas. ISH owning fields where illegitimate land use change has been detected are not included into the certification process. This, however, only targets four to eight ISH out of more than 1,600. Based on these results, an ISCC certification of this area under a Central Office (CO) structure was considered possible.
Figure 2: Within the analysed polygons no LUC above 1 ha can be identified. LUC can be identified next to the assessment area
Based on the data received, maps have been created and an interactive web-based smallholder tool for the Jambi province has been built (see figure 3). Within the tool it is possible to zoom directly to the region to be analysed. HCV maps have been integrated. The dataset is displayed within the tool for each household.
Figure 3: The exact location of the household of interest can be identified easily by entering the smallholder ID into the search field
After the detailed risk analysis and verification of ISCC principle 1 (protection of land with high biodiversity value or high carbon stock) a baseline audit has been conducted to better understand the status quo and to identify gaps towards certification and to design a customized training program for ISH. For the verification of principle 2-6 (covering further ecological and social requirements as well as management practices), personal interviews, field visits and document inspections took place. Typical non-compliances such as the handling and storage of chemicals as well as traceability of FFBs have been addressed in the framework of the project.
A crucial aspect to work on prior to certification is a Central Office (CO) structure according to ISCC requirements. Present cooperative structures have proved very helpful with regard to organizing smallholders in well-functioning cooperatives, which is essential to improve efficiency and create economies of scale. Procedures have been implemented that show how smallholder groups are integrated into the CO. Centralized setups have been implemented for e.g. transport and sales of FFBs, an organization and plan for fertilizer storage and application as well as a waste management plan and integrated pest management.
In order to provide support and incentives to palm oil independent smallholders to make a transition to more sustainable production systems and to be ready to become certified, Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and ISCC ISH training has been conducted, addressed to the identified needs and gaps during the baseline audit. The ISCC ISH training is based on a three-level “Train the Trainer” concept, which is implemented with the help of experienced ISH training experts from SNV who are familiar with the region and who are native speakers.
The newly developed ISCC scorecard for internal evaluation and monitoring of progress towards achieving the minimum level of compliance was also introduced and will in the future serve as a tool for preparation and verification of certification readiness.
Figure 4: ISCC ISH training for master trainers in Jakarta
It is expected that the ISCC ISH certification approach will cost 30 to 40 percent less compared to other approaches and at the same time will help ISH to generate additional revenues via an ISH fund. The underlying cost and revenue structure is currently monitored continuously in order to prove the concept. Certification of the first ISH is expected for the last quarter of 2017.