About the group
Number of smallholders: 245 = 173(M), 72 (W)
Total Area: 608.65 Ha
On-going Facilitator: SNV
Location of project: Petaling Jaya Village, Sungai Gelam Sub-District, Muaro Jambi District, 36363
SUSTAINABILITY JOURNEY STORY
Smallholder cooperative contributes to rural access road improvement
2 June 2021 – Converting to sustainable practices in palm oil cultivation has not only improved the livelihood of the growers, but also the social infrastructure in the village where they live. Smallholders grouped in a cooperative in a village in Jambi of the Sumatra Island of Indonesia have proved that the RSPO Certification they obtained has made a positive impact on the larger community.
The KUD Marga Jaya Cooperative, located in the Petaling Jaya Village, Sungai Gelam Sub-district, Muaro Jambi District, in the Jambi Province, gained RSPO Certification in early 2020. Since then, members of the Cooperative have experienced the benefits, that they can keep cultivating palm oil in much better methods with no harm to the society and environment. They are also committed to contributing to the community development in the village.
Chairman of the Cooperative Taufik Hidayat said that the certification has enabled the oil palm farmers to participate in the improvement of a main rural access road in the area. “Part of the funds from credit sales has been allocated to upgrade the access road in the village that connects to a nearby palm oil mill.”
He continued that it was a dedication to improve one of the social amenities in the local community, in which transportation for vehicles has then been easier as the soil was compacted with materials like gravels or crushed stones. “The new condition allows safe and fast passage of vehicles to carry crops to the mill. The access is also useful for other purposes like fertiliser transport and other things.”
He added that the contribution to social infrastructure is only an example of what the Cooperative can extend to the community in general. He said that there has also been an allocation to strengthen the credit union unit in the Cooperative. “We hope the credit union unit can be a real safe place to save and get loans and to extend better services; with a wider array of facilities, including financial education and outreach to the members.”
In addition, he said that there has been discussion to offer a scholarship for students. “Thanks to the RSPO Certification, the Marga Jaya Cooperative is experiencing a better financial situation. Members are committed to doing something for community development through education. We are still discussing the details. Hopefully, it can be materialised soon.”
In the meantime, the Cooperative is ready to retain the RSPO certification this year, he said. “The members want to always adopt responsible practices for more sustainable palm oil. We’re now waiting to receive the certification this year,” he said, recalling that it was not easy to convince the members to join the sustainability programme in the beginning.
“At first, many farmers doubted whether everything was true as described during the socialisation. But we kept trying. We believed nothing would happen immediately with instantly visible results. We took the stages while ensuring the farmers that there would be benefits. We approached them individually, visiting them at homes or while working in the plantations. We assured them that it was good to try. We told them there will be resources that can be used to allocate funds for replanting plans in the future,” he elaborated
The farmers then realised that there were things that they must do better to protect the environment while cultivating palm oil, he said. “After joining training sessions they became more aware that, for example, in pest control, they did not have to use so much chemical spray. There are also types of grass that can be left. They understand that plantation can be managed much better to get increased and better yields.”
According to Taufik, the Marga Jaya Cooperative expects to see more members joining the RSPO next year. “For the longer term, we plan to create a unit dealing with nurseries, as we want to support members with seeds for a replanting program probably in the next five years.”
He added that the farmers will very likely need support in the replanting period, especially those who have no side income other than from the palm oil sector. There must be another livelihood during the replanting period. This has to be prepared from now, and we need support for it.”
Nevertheless, the Cooperative is thankful to the SNV and RSPO as members are now enjoying the benefit since complying with the standards for sustainable palm oil production; and they are committed to continuing their participation.
Total area covered by the project
Number of smallholders benefitting from this project
Number/percentage of women supported by this project
29.39% women in this project
How you can support
The group members are in the second year of being RSPO certified, the ICS still needs assistance to improve their skills and capacity which in turn will ensure they can retain their certification. This effort should be appreciated by the downstream players such as Consumer Goods Manufacturers or retailers.
Please give us support in the sustainable supply chain by purchasing RSPO Smallholders Credits. More farmers will be encouraged to join the group to apply oil palm plantations sustainably.