Medium Grower Task Force (CLOSED)

The RSPO Standard Standing Committee (SSC) has endorsed the closure of the Medium Grower Task Force (MGTF) on 1 September 2021 and expresses its highest gratitude to the MGTF in successfully producing:

1. The interim definition of Medium Growers:

Medium growers are land owners or small businesses with more than 50 ha and up to 500 ha (accumulative), who cultivate and harvest oil palms using hired labour rather than family labour. They may have diverse sources of income including multiple crops, may not reside near their oil palm plantings and may employ administrative staff. (National Interpretation is encouraged.)

2. Interim certification paths available for medium growers based on existing systems are:

  • Medium Growers can obtain P&C Certification independently; or
  • Medium Growers can obtain P&C Certification as one of the supply bases of a company (mill-with-supply base) under the company’s P&C certificate; or
  • Medium Growers can obtain P&C Certification using RSPO Group Certification.

Both the interim definition and certification paths for Medium Growers are to be reviewed alongside the next Principles & Criteria and Independent Smallholder Standard review, for adoption at the 2023 General Assembly (GA).

Summary of MGTF Progress

The MGTF had its first meeting in July 2020 and concluded a total of 5 meetings with full quorum, as well as 3 meetings without quorum proceeded with a discussion on the review of the group certification document and the independent study commissioned.

An independent study for a profiling system for Independent Smallholders and medium-scale growers was commissioned, which exhibited a high degree of variability not just between regions and countries, but within countries. The study also concluded that a uniform classification system is challenging; in any situation it will lead to high variables within a given grower category and does not provide a meaningful analysis of challenges faced and levels of support required to achieve certification.

All relevant materials can be downloaded at the bottom of this page.


In March 2017, the RSPO Board of Governors (BoG) endorsed the RSPO Smallholder Strategy to improve the inclusivity of the RSPO for independent smallholders. A simplified standard for independent smallholders (RISS) was subsequently developed and endorsed by the BoG in September 2019 and was adopted at the General Assembly at RT17. With the adoption of the 2018 Principles & Criteria (P&C) and the RISS, the RSPO still lacks an inclusive and robust system for the certification of medium-sized growers.

To align with the RSPO Smallholder Strategy’s objective to improve the inclusivity of the RSPO for independent smallholders, the RISS definition for independent smallholders deviates from the definition in the 2018 P&C, thereby allowing smallholders that rely primarily on non-family labour and that earn the majority of their income from activities off the farm to get certified under the RISS. This adaptation to the independent smallholder definition also risks opening up the RISS to other interests such as land speculators, absentee landlords, and medium-sized growers who currently lack an inclusive and robust approach to get certified. As small and medium scale plantations are an increasingly important driver of deforestation in oil palm landscapes, there is an urgent need to develop a robust and credible system for the certification of medium sized growers, while at the same time reviewing the applicability of the RISS to ensure that both systems are tailored to their respective target audiences.

To address this need, a Medium Grower Task Force (MGTF), reporting directly to the Standards Standing Committee (SSC) was established to oversee the classification of palm oil producers and lead the development of a certification system and/or certification standard for medium- sized growers.


Hiew Koh Thien
N.Y.Hiew (Holdings) Sdn Bhd
Melanie Tantri
Eagle High Plantations
Latin America
Alejandra Rueda
Franklin Jackson
Local Farming Cooperation Inc, – Non Member
SH Standing Committee
Ian Orell
Dr Marcus Colchester
Michael Guindon (Co-Chair)
WWF Singapore
Supply Chain and Investors
Yunita Widiastuti
Cargill Tropical Palm

RSPO Secretariat

Dede Herland
Standard Development Manager

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