SHARP's regional focal point, Proforest, is working with palm oil company Jaremar and smallholder association UNPALA on the use of the RSS framework as a step-by-step approach to smallholder certification. A key aspect of this work is the scaling up of the application of the simplified precautionary practices approach to HCV management by smallholders, which has included recent field testing of a prototype application to support Group Managers to understand and assess risks to HCVs.
In December 2015, the RSPO approved a simplified approach to High Conservation Values (HCVs) for independent smallholders with established plantations. The approval means that smallholder palm oil producers wishing to achieve RSPO certification can use the simplified approach to meet criterion 5.2 of the RSPO standard.
The approach has been developed following extensive field testing with smallholders, including an initial validation of the approach with smallholders in Honduras. With support from Proforest, the smallholder association UNPALA and the palm oil company Jaremar have enabled the precautionary practices approach to HCV management to reach over 500 smallholders with plantations covering 4250 ha.
In addition, a new HCV approach has been field-tested in Honduras for smallholders who want to expand their plantations (Criterion 7.3 RSPO). The approach is based on the likelihood of HCV presence and the consequences of the risk of HCV loss in the context of oil palm expansion. For sites where the risk of HCV loss is low, a simplified but rigorous approach to HCV assessments and management is being developed.
The new application will help managers identify social and environmental risks and make decisions on how to manage them.
The field trials also include testing a new application and dashboard for smallholder farmers that allows the collection of sustainability data, such as the presence of HCVs in the field. The application will help managers of smallholder groups to identify social and environmental risks, make decisions on how to manage them, report results and follow up information for group members.
Field visits were conducted in September with 13 technical support staff and smallholder group managers from Jaremar and UNPALA. Data were collected through visits to small farmers and later used to test the dashboard. The pilot test was a success and provided valuable lessons to further improve the approach, allowing for more realistic estimates of the time required for training and user support, and to recommend further adjustments to align the functionality of the application with the context.