As a smallholder

Scheme Smallholders

What are Scheme Smallholders?

What is the Difference Between Independent and Scheme Smallholders?
Independent Smallholders

All smallholder farmers who are not considered Scheme Smallholders are considered Independent Smallholder farmers. In addition, the total size of their oil palm production area is smaller than or equal to 50 hectares (ha) OR smaller than or equal to the maximum size defined in a National Interpretation (source : RSPO ISH Standard 2019).

Scheme Smallholders

Smallholder farmers, landowners or their delegates who do not have:

  • The enforceable decision-making power on the operation of the land and production practices; and/or
  • The freedom to choose how they utilise their land, types of crops to plant, and how they manage them (how they organise, manage and finance the land) (source : RSPO P&C 2018);
  • Smallholders that may be structurally bound by contract, credit agreement or by planning to a particular mill, but the association is not necessarily limited to such linkages. Other terms commonly used for schema smallholders include associated and/or plasma smallholders (source : RSPO Certification System for P&C 2017).

How do Scheme Smallholders become RSPO Members?

Scheme Smallholders must be certified together with the mill with which they are associated. A list of certified supply base mills can be found here. According to the RSPO P&C Certification, the certified mill shall develop and implement a plan to ensure that 100% of Scheme Smallholders and scheme outgrowers are compliant with the P&C standard within three years of the mill’s initial certification.

How do Scheme Smallholder become RSPO Certified?

For companies operating mills, the certification model to be followed is the certification of the mill and its supply base. Scheme Smallholders must be certified using the P&C 2018 Standard. However, there are two systems that they can use for certifying smallholders as presented below:

Submission of Application / Proposal
Smallholders / Group Manager
Appraisal review and assessment of application proposal
Fund Manager and Regional Representative(s), where present
Up to 6 weeks upon receiving application
Decision of application
Fund Manager, Regional Representative(s), Smallholder Fund Panel (SFP), where present
Up to 4 weeks from appraisal review
Note: Unsuccessful applicant(s) can resubmit proposals and will be treated as new applications.
Announcement of decision to applicants
Fund Manager and Regional Representative(s), where present
Up to 2 weeks from decision
Contracting of grant agreement
Fund Manager and Regional Representative(s), where present
Up to 8 weeks from decision
Fund Manager or Regional Representative(s)
As and when RSPO and fund recipient to arrange monitoring

RSSF by the numbers

These are the regions where the RSSF has directly supported its Independent Smallholder beneficiaries since 2014.

* Data as of February 2020

No of individual SH benefitted
Collective total size of farms (ha)




Latin America












Photo Credit: RSPO/PT. BGA