Thailand is the world’s third largest producer of crude palm oil, however efforts to increase awareness of sustainable oil palm practices and RSPO in the country is still very much needed. Recognising the importance of this crucial market, RSPO is pleased to welcome Radda Larpnun, as our new Technical Manager in Thailand. 

With a Master’s of Science in Conservation and Tourism, extensive experience in the field, and a strong passion for conservation, Radda, who joined us in mid-April is excited to share her goals and vision for her new role with RSPO.  

Tell us more about your background and how this will help you in your role at RSPO?
I have 20 years of experience in natural resource management, working in government, academic and non-governmental settings. I believe this definitely gives me an edge and makes it easier for me to understand the concept of sustainability. I hope it will also help me as I start to work more closely with Thai members, especially farmers, in implementing the RSPO standards.

Previously I was with conservation societies including the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). I also have 10 years of journalism experience as a feature writer in leading national newspapers and magazines in Bangkok, covering environmental and social issues. My background in journalism should help me in sourcing market-specific information and communicating with people from all levels and backgrounds.

Why is your role important for the Thai market? 
Although Thailand is one of the top three oil palm producers in the world, only a very small percentage of palm oil in the country is sustainably produced (2% of hectarage in Thailand is RSPO certified). Besides that, the majority of the palm oil produced in Thailand is for national consumption and not for export. By having a representative here, RSPO can now play a more active role in helping these producers to improve their standards in order to be on par with the global standards. It will also enable us to work with more smallholder farmers who make up the majority of oil palm producers in Thailand (roughly 70%), and enhance their livelihood through sustainable practices and certification.

Furthermore, I believe having good technical relations with members, prospective members, and relevant stakeholders is crucial for developing and maintaining RSPO’s presence in Thailand. So, from now on, I’ll be the ‘bridge’ that connects RSPO to Thai members and stakeholders. 

What does this position mean to RSPO members and stakeholders in Thailand?
As mentioned earlier, the bulk of our producers are smallholder farmers who only speak Thai. In fact, the majority of RSPO members and stakeholders in Thailand have problems communicating in English, so having a native Thai speaker here  as the RSPO representative is crucial to ensure the success of RSPO in the country. With better and clearer communication, I am confident that RSPO will gain a stronger presence. 

What are your top priorities for the coming months?  
Right now I’m working on the strategy for Thailand together with Salahudin Yaacob, RSPO Director of Strategic Stakeholder Relations. It’s basically a roadmap on what we want to achieve and what we need to do to make it happen within these next few years. It is expected to be done by early June. My main focus will be to help increase CSPO production and uptake, and forge strategic relationships with the government, NGOs, and stakeholders, as well as smallholders. 

However, right now, the most important thing is for me to get up to speed on some of the key changes in the latest RSPO 2018 Principles and Criteria (P&C), to brush up on my knowledge of RSPO systems and standards, and to start engaging with our members here in Thailand.

What are you most looking forward to about your new role?
I’m eager to learn more about the implementation of no deforestation in the P&C and the strengthened criteria around human and labour rights. I am also eager to start speaking with like-minded stakeholders in the region about potential project partnerships in the near future.

To get in touch with Radda, please feel free to drop her an email at [email protected]

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