In recent months, RSPO intensified its engagements and interventions with the Indian government, industry players and communities, amplifying the call for sustainability through effective partnerships in India’s palm oil industry. Such deeper engagement coincides with RSPO’s latest milestone of reaching 100 members in India, mobilising efforts to champion sustainable palm oil production and imports in the country.

With the Indian government’s announcement of more than 1.4 billion USD to promote oil palm cultivation in the country under the National Mission on Edible Oils – Oil Palm (NMEO-OP), the area under oil palm cultivation is projected to increase by more than threefold to a million hectares, and the production of crude palm oil to 1.125 million tonnes by 2025-26.

India’s advancement towards sustainable palm oil production nevertheless faces a number of challenges, including a lack of awareness regarding sustainable palm oil among various supply chain actors and the need for increased capacity building and training, in order to move towards sustainable palm oil production.

Accelerating the domestic production of palm oil in India must also be coupled with an adherence to sustainability principles in order to mitigate any potential harmful effects on the environment. To tackle these challenges, building multi-stakeholder collaboration and consensus is key.

Recognising smallholder needs in India

In June 2023,RSPO hosted a public consultation workshop in Guwahati, Assam, with the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI), which took a deep dive into sustainable palm oil production in India. It saw participation from over 40 representatives from local government, Assam’s Department of Agriculture and Horticulture, and Agroforestry Development Board, Patanjali Foods, Kanpur Edibles, Godrej Agrovet, civil society, non-governmental organisations, and the North East farming community.

Centred on the RSPO Independent Smallholder (ISH) Standard, the workshop hosted a series of presentations and discussions on the environmental and social aspects of cultivation and the applicability of the standards.

Prior to the public consultation workshop, the RSPO Smallholders Unit, together with the RSPO Market Transformation team in India, trained a group of smallholders on sustainable cultivation, introducing the ISH Standards.

The workshop provided insight into the challenges faced by the farmers, while sharing expertise on producing higher and better yield through sustainable methods.

Reinforcing India’s role in championing sustainability

Speaking at the IVPA Global Roundtable on Vegetable Oil and Oilseed Sector in New Delhi last August, RSPO CEO JD D’Cruz stressed the importance of partnerships for sustainable palm oil development in India.

“RSPO partnerships are able to influence policies, creating impact through shared responsibility. For partnerships to be effective, however, it is important to understand and consider local views and context,” JD said.

“India has the potential to lead the transformation towards a greener vegetable oil supply chain, with trade being a potent tool. India’s demand for Certified Sustainable Palm Oil will also impact producing countries’ exports.”

As India continues to focus on developing a domestic palm oil production market, RSPO is increasingly stepping up engagement, engaging with the buyers and the supply chain at large to make the case for sustainability.

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