The RSPO’s NPPs have been subject to critical debate. NGOs have pushed for them to be tightened up since they were introduced in 2010. Producers have pointed out their problems, particularly for small farmers.
At last week’s RSPO meeting the NPPs were rolled back for small farmers.
The RSPO meeting was notable for not one, but two, motions by different producer groups calling for a review and temporary suspension of the NPPs for small farmers.
The motions pointed out that the NPPs impose a massive and disproportionate cost for small farmers. They also point out that act as a deterrent for small farmers to pursue certification at all.
Many of the points raised in the motions were raised during the consultation on the NPPs, but were completely ignored.
Despite this, international NGO WWF reportedly objected to the suspension of NPPs saying they are an important safeguard.
WWF proudly mentions in its publications that it pushed for the introduction of the NPPs. It has also insisted at various points that there are significant financial benefits for smallholders in RSPO certification.
Research by organisations such as CIFOR show that this is tenuous at best. The ignoring of smallholder concerns by NGOs is a common story in palm oil is common. As CIFOR notes: “These stringent, rapidly implemented obligations may then present a serious challenge for smallholders and SMEs, who have limited access to markets, training, financial services, etc. As such, it excludes them from an evolving industry…”
Fortunately, this year, smallholders finally got listened to.