RSPO has launched a new initiative, the RSPO Smallholder Trainer Academy (STA), to increase the support available for smallholders globally.

In the course of delivering the RSPO Smallholder Support Fund (RSSF), it was established that a platform, which provided scalable and replicable sustainability training, specifically for smallholders growing oil palm, was needed. To offer additional support and ultimately include more smallholders in the RSPO system, RSPO needed a way to reach larger numbers of small scale oil palm farmers. By adopting a ‘train-the-trainer’ approach, the Smallholder Trainer Academy has been developed with a focus on improving smallholder livelihoods and sustainable farming practices.

RSPO Smallholder Programme Manager, Kertijah Abdul Kadir, said “Using tailored  training materials, offering ‘Master Training’ to bring more trainers to the scheme, and improving the capacity building support on offer for smallholders, we hope to scale up the network of trainers currently working with oil palm smallholders.”

The STA will work with partners from relevant sectors to expand ‘field-to-training’ capacity, and any corporate or non-corporate organisations working directly or indirectly with oil palm smallholders can become an Academy Partner. The benefits of becoming a partner include access to training materials, training to become a master trainer, and additional support from the RSPO Smallholder team, to name just a few. The STA offers a wide-range of materials applicable to smallholders, group managers, and programme designers.

The RSPO held its first STA training in Medan, Indonesia in August 2019, where 18 participants took part in the 6-day ‘Master Training’ programme. The attendees came from seven organisations including Procter & Gamble, Forever Sabah, WildAsia, MusimMas, FORTASBI, GIZ Thailand, and Solidaridad Colombia. The second training was held in Aceh in October, where 21 participants from Indonesian organisations attended.

Most participants were project and field officers who have direct involvement with smallholders and participants learnt about how to enhance their training execution techniques using the training guides (and approach) developed by the Academy. The training activities were quite extensive and involved a lot of role-playing and training demonstrations, which were conducted in between class presentations and group discussions. From the two trainings done so far, most participants commented that the trainings are very practical and participants benefited from learning how to plan and execute an effective training session. Additionally, learning and discussions on the programme design level (using scenario simulation) provided an overarching approach that the participants found very useful and applicable.  

Over the coming years, the RSPO Smallholder Trainer Academy aims to build a pool of Master Trainers across sectors and organisations that form a global community promoting sustainable oil palm practices through smallholder training. Learn more about our new training approach and find out how you can become a partner or trainer in the STA network at our 17th Annual Roundtable Conference (RT17) in Bangkok next week. 

We encourage all interested parties to drop by the RSPO booth during RT17 where the STA team will be available to share learnings from the initial trainings and more. For further details on the RSPO STA, you can also visit

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