Procter & Gamble is expanding a programme to support 10,000 smallholder farmers in Malaysia to create a more sustainable palm oil supply chain.
P&G has partnered with the Malaysia Institute for Supply Chain Innovation and agricultural firm Yara International to expand the programme to create 250 learning farms which will serve as community resource centres for up to 10,000 smallholders within the next five years.
The programme has seen the company working with independent smallholders to increase overall fruit yields through training and the implementation of more sustainable agricultural practices.
A pilot programme started in 2015 and focused on 2,000 farmers in the state of Johor. Smallholders currently provide 40% of the world’s palm oil and the programme provided knowledge and access to agricultural resources to maximise crops.
Farmers at learning farms receive hands-on advisory support from agronomists and sustainability field officers to implement best-in-class farm operations management including harvesting optimisation, nutrient plans and budget management.
The farmers will then act as resource trainers for local communities to drive scale and good agricultural practices to other farmers across P&G’s palm oil supply chain.
The goal of the initiative is to improve yields by 30-50% and improve the livelihood of smallholder farmers, while creating a more sustainable supply chain.
Jack Ryan, vice president, P&G Chemicals, said: “We believe we can be a force for good and a force for growth. This programme illustrates our commitment to driving long-term sustainability efforts.
“We are proud of the work we are doing in Malaysia because it is the right thing to do for the local community and the global consumers we serve who want more sustainable products.”
In 2014, P&G pledged to end deforestation in its palm oil supply chain by 2020.
The programme forms part of P&G’s ‘Ambition 2030’ environmental sustainability goals. Last month, the company announced its European fabric care brands would be reducing plastic use by 30%.
P&G also committed to halving greenhouse gas emissions at its manufacturing sites, purchase enough renewable energy to power 100% of its plants and source at least 5bn litres of water from circular sources.
Meanwhile UK retailer, Selfridges, has announced it is now completely palm oil free across all of its own-brand foods, nine months ahead of its target.
The department store has removed palm oil from 280 products in its Selfridges Selection range including chocolate, biscuits and Christmas products such as mince pies.
Simon Forster, the managing director of Selfridges, said: “We’re committed to buying better to inspire change. The removal of palm oil from our Selfridges Selection range is the latest demonstration of this approach.
"We believe that until certified palm oil guarantees zero deforestation, our customers should be given the option to buy palm oil-free products. Our expectation is that all brands we work with are aware of and actively engaging with the issues surrounding palm oil and deforestation," he said.