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Africa Palm Oil Programme

The Africa Palm Oil Programme supports growers, governments, NGOs and other stakeholders to understand and adopt sustainable production practices. The programme has a specific focus on small and medium-sized enterprises, particularly in areas where palm oil production is expanding.

What are our priorities?

In the short term, we are focusing on building awareness about sustainability in oil palm production and developing capacity to implement RSPO certification. We work directly with growers to help them reach certifiable standards, and with other stakeholders to promote greater understanding of RSPO certification.

What does the programme do?

The Africa Palm Oil Programme promotes the adoption of good practice in oil palm expansion across West and Central Africa in four ways:

1. Awareness raising and capacity building

We aim to promote the adoption of good practice in oil palm expansion across West and Central Africa. We run training courses for oil palm growers on implementing the RSPO standard in practice, and a lead auditor course endorsed by RSPO.

2. Implementing sustainable practices

We support smallholders and SMEs to improve their oil palm production practices and work towards RSPO certification. We carry out baseline assessments of palm oil producers’ practices and provide technical support to help these producers reach a certifiable standard. We are also working with our partners and in collaboration with the SHARP Programme to develop guidelines on improved practices for smallholders before they reach a certifiable standard.

3. Using the HCV approach

We aim to make the High Conservation Value (HCV) approach a key tool for deciding which areas are unsuitable for oil palm expansion from a social and environmental perspective. We provide practical field training on HCV assessments and management.

4. National processes

We are facilitating the development of a national interpretation of the RSPO Principles & Criteria in Ghana, and providing technical assistance to the same processes in Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire.

Why is it important?

We estimate that up to 22 million hectares of land are under consideration for oil palm plantations over the next five years in West and Central Africa. This represents about 2 per cent of the total land area of West and Central Africa, but is likely to affect the 328 million hectares of forest in the region disproportionately. This could have significant positive impacts through its contribution to the national economy and improved rural livelihoods. It will also be a major contributor to deforestation. Good planning is needed to balance development with conservation.

Voluntary certification through RSPO helps producers use legal and sustainable growing practices and protects areas of forest with high conservation values. Many key planning decisions will be made about oil palm expansion in the next couple of years, with long-term consequences. But producers and planners often do not understand what RSPO certification is and how it works.

Funding and implementation partners

Our funders and partners include the Biodiversity and Agricultural Commodities Program (BACP) of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Sustainable West Africa Palm Oil Programme (SWAPP), UK Department for International Development (DFID), RSPO and Solidaridad West Africa. 

Our areas of work

Contact programme manager
External sources

SHARP Partnership