Journalists meet region’s first certified independent smallholders

The RSPO Secretariat in North America and Latin America teamed up to invite journalists from the United States and Europe to view member and stakeholder progress in Ecuador and Colombia, an area where, within a few years’ time, could have the highest certification rate in the region.

In Ecuador, the tour included a meeting with the first group of independent smallholders in Latin America to become certified, Asocofor in La Concordia, the source for Organic Supply, a certified organic RSPO member supplying overseas markets.

In Quito, the capital of Ecuador, the journalists examined Ecuador’s initiative to pursue a jurisdictional approach. The first meeting was with Carolina Rosero, project manager of Conservation International, on the challenges and opportunities in the country. This was followed by a meeting with Minister of Agriculture Ruben Flores. In a dramatic turn of events, Minister Flores and his counterpart at the Ministry of Environment announced a funding agreement for Ecuador to pursue a jurisdictional approach to certifying the country’s palm oil sector under the RSPO Principles & Criteria standard.

In Colombia, group visits Ministry of the Environment

After Ecuador, the group moved to Colombia for interviews with representatives of the Colombian Ministry of the Environment in Bogota, specifically to explore the country’s zero-deforestation policy, announced as part of the TFA (Tropical Forest Alliance) 2020 initiative, and with Ivan Valencia, a consultant working on the initiative. Closer to the Colombian coast in Santa Marta, journalists visited the corporate office of Daabon Group to hear about their organisation, their recent RSPO NEXT certification, and their sale of RSPO NEXT credits. Daabon also took journalists on a tour of one of their mills, and to a meeting of smallholders receiving High Conservation Value (HCV) training.

Another interesting visit was to Fedepalma, where the whole team including Mr. Mauricio Posso Markets Director and Mr. Jens Mesa, President of Fedepalma spoke about the hard work Fedepalma is doing to transform the Colombian market and the perception of the consumer—with an eye towards increasing domestic demand of certified sustainable palm oil (CSPO).

Topics discussed during the five-day media tour ranged from smallholder credits to integrated pest management and domestic consumption of CSPO in Latin America. With Latin America now a growing producer of palm oil—and with the fastest growth in terms of newly certified hectares—it’s an exciting time for Latin American RSPO members and consumers.

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