The Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification assures buyers of palm oil products that the standards of production are sustainable. On the international scene, this certification is required for large plantations/processors to supply palm oil products to the big industrial consumers/secondary processors. The large plantations that are RSPO certified can only buy FFB from smallholder farmers with RSPO certification. As the in-country demand for palm oil rises, large plantations are willing to pay higher prices for FFB, more money than farmers can make if they processed the bunches and sold the palm oil. This provides an opportunity for small holder farmers to get RSPO certification and earn more money for their FFB. To achieve sustainability, palm oil stakeholders have to commence the process of RSPO sensitisation and certification.
This program brought together 50 participants: Rep of Edo state Governor, ADPs, Okomu, Wilmar, NIFOR, Atlantic Imperial, Allissee Global oil Palm, OPGAN, SHERDA, Zeti, Quality Oil Palm Association, NAYAB, Media Insight, Ray Power, EBS, and Radio Nigeria with the following expected outcome.
- Farmers will understand the benefits of supplying FFB to large plantations (also large processors) and desire RSPO certification. This will catalyze their desire to plant improved seedlings, adopt best practices for increased yield and we can commence the process of RSPO certification
- Medium scale processors in the Niger Delta who can process SPO will commence the process of getting RSPO certified as this will guaranty his continued supply to big buyers like PZ.
- Presco, Okomu and any other large plantation will decide to expand their out grower schemes to accommodate more farmers, and support them to become RSPO certified.
- Relationships and linkages will take place that will lead to business transactions.
The programme which was declared open by the Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of Deputy Governor, Edo State after his opening remarks stating the interest of government to have the communique of the forum so as to facilitate the implementation at the State level in order to fulfil the electioneering campaign of the present Governor to create 250,000 jobs to teeming youths especially from Agriculture sector.
The summary of activity of the day involves three presentations:
- Introduction to RSPO: International perspectives
- Introduction of RSPO: Nigerian Interpretation/Incentives and procedures for getting certified
- Value proposition for selling FFB instead of processing
This was immediately followed by plenary with group discussions on the two topics.
Topic 1: Opportunities and benefits for large estates and small-holders: How can small-holders and large plantations work together to apply RSPO standards in Nigeria
Topic 2: Transactional relationship between small-holders and large estates: cost and benefits. Compliance on the use of viable inputs (seedlings / fertilizer)
Therefore, the feedback/communique from group discussion is summarized as follows:
- Small holders can only adopt RSPO standards if they collaborate with large plantations
- In spite of common constraints in this oil palm sector such as:
Access to quality seedling due to adulteration,
Access to farmland due to difficulty of ownership system and
Access to finance due to bottleneck of equity contribution;
The participants proposed that:
- NIFOR decentralized the production of seedlings in order to meet the annual demand. Presently NIFOR production could not meet 10% of the yearly demand
- Each State should develop land banks at LGA level for oil palm development while the recent CBN loan package to oil palm farmers should channel to real oil palm farmers through assistance of OPGAN and ADPs.
- RSPO interpretation to small-holders should be simplified even to major local languages and shared in town hall meetings across the Niger Delta
- Transactional relationship between small-holders and large estates could be effective by
- Census of small-holders around large estates
- Clustering the small-holders as a potential out-growers
- Capacity building and inputs assistance to these potential out-growers
- Expansion monitoring by large estates on these potential out-growers to ensure adoption of BMP
- Signing an MoU with these out-growers on pricing for FFB to ensure win-win relationship
- Do it yourself manual for oil palm production should be facilitated by inputs companies and large estates for small-holders
- Insurance policy for oil palm and products of small-holders
The participants poured encomium on PIND/MADE for their facilitating efforts in the development of oil palm sector in the Niger Delta and appealed to PIND/MADE to present this communique to Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources as well as Federal Ministry of Commerce including their counterparts in oil palm producing States of Niger Delta.
MADE and PIND will work together as a team to engage the responsible stakeholders and address the major issues raised at the workshop. They already have on-going projects in access to seedlings and best farming practices. They have already begun the process of reviewing the bottle necks around land acquisition issues in the Niger Delta, and are willing to offer support to private investors/government agencies interested in out-grower schemes for the oil palm sector in the Niger Delta.