19 July 2012

RSPO Africa Roadshow has started


RSPO Africa Roadshow has started

Currently, Africa’s contribution to the global output of palm oil is still low, but this is rapidly changing with many companies negotiating concessions agreements and planning investment in recently allocated land holdings. While oil palm plantations may bring many socio-economic benefits, there are also potential environmental and social risks.

The RSPO Africa Roadshow is an awareness raising and capacity building programme which aims to support best practice in planning and expansion of oil palm plantations in West and Central Africa. In  particular it aims  to significantly increase the level of understanding of the requirements of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), which is the gold standard for responsible palm oil production.

In a series of workshops in some of the most important new producer countries, the Roadshow brings together key stakeholders, including government institutions, civil society and the local private sector.  So far workshops have been held in Ghana, Gabon, Cameroon and Liberia. Events in several other countries, including Nigeria, Congo DR, Ivory Coast and Congo, are planned for a second phase of the programme.

Most major oil palm companies have attended the workshops and are keen to meet the RSPO requirements, says Proforest project manager Isaac Abban-Mensah. "This is not only because they want to ensure a market for their produce, but certainly also because they appreciate the positive local benefits RSPO certification can bring.” Such local benefits can include good relationships with local communities and smallholders, more efficient production systems and sound environmental management at the local level, Isaac explained.

“The experience so far has been very positive, but it has also shown us that a lot more work needs to be done. In particular it is important to build practical technical expertise within the region and to stimulate collaboration and interaction between various government agencies themselves and between other stakeholders.”

The RSPO roadshow is coordinated by The Proforest Initiative, working together with an alliance of partners including the RSPO, Conservation International, Solidaridad, WWF, the HCV Resource Network, ZSL, and GIZ. Funding has been provided by the Biodiversity and Agricultural Commodities Programme, with additional support from Sime Darby, Olam International and Unilever.