Smallholder Academy · ISCC Deforestation-Free Certification

Welcome to the ISCC Smallholder Academy

The ISCC Smallholder Academy

in cooperation with  


Until today, the majority of the world’s farms are managed by Independent Smallholders. Altogether those small farms operate around one tenth of the world’s agricultural land; among the controversial oil palm cultivation, small farms even account for an estimated 40% of the total acreage. An investment in family-run agriculture provides an opportunity to reduce poverty, but unfortunately, small-scale farming can also lead to deforestation, biodiversity loss and social issues due to a lack of knowledge and financial resources.

Sustainability certification of Independent Smallholders contributes to environmental protection and social welfare. This is why ISCC, in cooperation with SNV, thrives to expand the certification of Independent Smallholders and initiated the ISCC Smallholder Academy.

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ISCC Deforestation-Free Certification

ISCC Independent Smallholder Certification contributes to the implementation of environmentally, socially and economically sustainable production.


The way to attain an ISCC Independent Smallholder Certification

The Independent Smallholder Certification system is based on a three-step train-the-trainer concept. In addition to the auditors, ISCC trains the SNV master trainers. These master trainers in turn introduce the Central Offices (CO) to the SNV/WUR Better Management Training. In the end, the Independent Smallholders are being trained by the Central Offices.

Set up a Central Office (CO) organisation

An important precondition for a successful ISCC certification of smallholders is the clarification of responsibilities and an appropriate organisational structure. Under ISCC, smallholders who would like to receive ISCC certification need to be certified as a group under a so-called Central Office (CO), which is managed by a CO manager.

Receive SNV/WUR Better Management Training

SNV provides a training, called SNV/WUR Better Management Training in order to train the Central Offices. It is a train-the-trainer concept, that means the Central Offices train the Independent Smallholders. The training aims to support the smallholders in setting up or adapting an organisational structure beneficial for certification and to raise awareness of good agricultural practices in order for smallholders to increase productivity.

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Conduct a baseline audit and implement corrective measures

A baseline audit has to be conducted in order to better understand the status quo and to identify gaps towards certification and to design a customized training program for smallholders. Results of the audit are discussed in order to identify and evaluate corrective actions.

Become certified

In order to become ISCC certified, smallholders have to comply with ISCC principles one to six, covering the protection of land with high biodiversity value or high carbon stock as well as several ecological and social requirements and management practices.

It is possible for certified operators to process non-sustainable material. Unfortunately, in many cases this material comes from unknown sources and may originate from illegal sources or is produced under environmentally or socially unacceptable conditions. In order to mitigate risks, the ISCC landscape approach encourages certified operators to take responsibility for their sourcing areas and to act as a role model for others in the region.

Learn more about the ISCC Landscape Approach.

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