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Both certification standards, among others, require oil palm plantations to preserve riparian reserves, avoid development on steep slopes and prevent encroachment on protected areas. Good agricultural practices and respecting human rights are also required towards stopping deforestation and ensuring no exploitation of people in the production of sustainable palm oil.
KLASS is the third cooperative facilitated by WWF-Malaysia’s Sustainable Palm Oil Team (SPOT) after the formation of Koperasi Pekebun Kecil dan Sederhana Sawit Lestari Sabah Berhad (KO-SALESA) on 17 August 2022. Both KLASS and KO-SALESA consist of 50 and 37 smallholders respectively covering a combined total land area of roughly 1,300 hectares in the Tabin and Sandakan landscapes.
“WWF-Malaysia aims to integrate this initiative in order to improve the sustainable production of palm oil through a wider landscape approach. Through a landscape approach, sustainable palm oil production in Sabah is linked with the protection of the Sabah’s forests and the restoration of its key ecological corridors, ultimately creating a living landscape,” said Dr Robecca Jumin, WWF-Malaysia’s Head of Conservation Sabah.
Both cooperatives' formation follows the success of the first initiative with Koperasi Landskap Kelapa Sawit Sabah Bhd (LKSS) facilitated by SPOT in 2019 for Tawau landscape. It has now grown to over 380 members comprising of 300 smallholders and 80 medium-sized growers with a cumulative land area of about 16,000 hectares. Of 380 growers from LKSS who are part of the group certification, 25 are undergoing RSPO certification processes.
“WWF-Malaysia supports MSPO as a necessary step towards RSPO certification. We help facilitate growers through a stepwise approach, by first attaining MSPO, followed by RSPO certification,” said Max Donysius, Sustainable Agriculture Manager, WWF-Malaysia.
He added this initiative is also in line with the State government’s commitment to 30% Totally Protected Areas (TPA) and 100% RSPO certification of palm oil by 2025 as part of a jurisdictional approach to sustainable development.
“Businesses are often discouraged from pursuing certification as it is costly. The newly formed cooperative will serve as a platform to support its members' certifications by sharing costs and applying industry best practices to achieve group certification under MSPO and RSPO standards,” said Hamka Bin Kasma, Koperasi KLASS Pro tem Chairman while adding that the cooperative hopes to grow its membership over time.
Group certification is a joint certification of a group of oil palm growers with the certification applying to the whole group. In order to facilitate access for small producers and offer reduced costs, a group certification model allows each individual group member to benefit from the economies of scale by being part of a larger group, as well as making certification more affordable as costs are shared.
Under WWF-Malaysia’s Sabah Landscapes Programme, SPOT aims to support 450 small and medium-sized growers in three priority landscapes namely Tawau-Kunak, Tabin and Lower Sugut covering 45,000 hectares to produce RSPO-certified palm oil by 2025.
Based on the three pillars of Protect, Produce, Restore, the Sabah Landscapes Programme combines both conservation and sustainable development by integrating the protection of forests, wildlife and rivers, with RSPO-certified production of oil palm, and restoration of ecological corridors and riparian reserves.
WWF-SPOT with RSPO representatives and smallholders from Koperasi KLASS who have committed to undergo the process for RSPO certification under the group certification scheme.
Hamka Bin Kasma, Koperasi KLASS Pro tem Chairman
Max Donysius, Sustainable Agriculture Manager, WWF-Malaysia