Musim Mas is launching a joint programme with General Mills to support palm oil farmers to help their operations become more sustainable in Indonesia.
Singapore-based palm oil corporation Musim Mas said the initiative was part of an overall strategy to reduce deforestation by improving livelihoods and would be targeted at independent smallholders from villages bordering the environmentally vital Leuser Ecosystem.
Musim Mas and US food giant General Mills said they would collaborate to integrate smallholder growers into the sustainable palm oil supply chain and reduce deforestation.
The company said deforestation was mostly due to small-scale plantations outside of concession areas, adding "it is crucial to focus efforts on smallholders”.
“The program is part of Musim Mas’ vision to establish Smallholder Hubs that serve as a pre-competitive platform where companies can pool resources and share their expertise to train farmers,” the company added.
“The primary objective is to develop sustainable extension services, benefiting the communities and the local government.”
General Mills promised to fund the first year of the two-year programme, which it believes will benefit 1,000 smallholders.
The programme will feature education on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), business management, and NDPE (No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation).
Musim Mas said the modules would help to improve smallholders’ sustainability standards, increase their land productivity, and help them to better manage their finances.
“We see an increasing need to support on-the-ground activities that address the drivers of deforestation within high-risk production landscapes such as Indonesia’s Leuser Ecosystem,” said Kevin O’Donnell, global director of sourcing and operations sustainability at General Mills.
“This is especially the case with smallholder farmers who can benefit greatly from better access to technical expertise.”
The six and a half million acre Leuser Ecosystem is one of the most biodiverse places on earth and is home to Sumatran rhinos, tigers, elephants, orangutans but is being clear-cut at an alarming rate due to palm oil plantations.
Last week, Malaysia promoted its most controversial major export, palm oil, around the world via the slogan “Palm oil is God’s gift”.
The world's second largest palm oil producer and exporter aims to use the slogan to combat growing anti-palm oil sentiment abroad.