In recent years the palm oil industry became one of the fastest growing sectors in Latin America within the context of agribusiness in the region.
Latin America is the second largest palm oil producing region in the world, contributing 5.7% of global palm oil. The 6 largest countries that are producing palm oil in Latin America are Colombia, followed by Ecuador, Honduras, Guatemala, Brazil and Costa Rica.
With the rising global demand for Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO), 64 members have become RSPO members in the region. Twenty-six are oil palm growers, managing more than 250,000 hectares of oil palm plantations.
It has been a progressive journey in Latin America as total CSPO production has reached 275,000 metric tonnes, derived from 59,000 hectares of plantations and 8 extractors located in Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala and Ecuador – all RSPO-certified.
Although Latin America is hampered by the current low prices of palm oil and high production costs, the growing interest in sustainable palm oil in the region promises great potential for growth in the volume of CSPO, as 13 new plantations and mills are expected to be certified in 2015.
To meet the challenge of increasing certification demand from RSPO members in Latin America, RSPO has engaged Mr Francisco Naranjo in the capacity of technical manager for the region.
One of Francisco’s priorities will be to develop local capacities by training local technicians in RSPO standard and the application of concepts such as High Conservation Values and Free, Prior and Informed Consent.
This process will develop a greater understanding of RSPO standards among members and interested stakeholders in the region. It will also help to finalise the processes of National Interpretations of the RSPO Principles and Criteria in several countries of the region and finally, will assist RSPO members in their certification process.
According to Francisco, a number of smallholders in the region who represent almost 40% of the total output of palm oil produced in Latin America have applied for the RSPO Smallholders Support Fund (RSSF). The RSSF is introduced in acknowledgement of the imperative and dominant role smallholders around the world play in the palm oil sector to promote and increase the production of CSPO so that market transformation is realised.
For more information on the work of RSPO in the Latin America region, please contact Francisco Naranjo.