Thailand joins RSPO, GIZ in making palm oil industry more sustainable
The Agriculture Ministry aims to allocate more land to palm plantations in Thailand to boost productivity and meet future demands.
Alongkorn Phonbutr, adviser to the agriculture minister, made this remark on Tuesday at the Second Business Forum organised by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and the German Organisation for International Cooperation (GIZ).
“We are increasing the yield per rai by no less than 10 per cent and the extraction rate of 22-23 per cent to increase productivity to meet future demand," he said.
He added that the Agriculture Ministry, alongside RSPO, will work on raising the standard of sustainable palm-oil production in Thailand and in line with this, the Thailand Sustainable Palm Oil Alliance has been established. Standards on agricultural commodities related to oil palm will also be established by the National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards.
“Considering various crises with unpredictable volatility, this is an opportunity for all parties to review and share our goals towards a more sustainable future,” he said.
“Establishing the Thailand Sustainable Palm Oil Alliance could not have come at a more perfect time.
"We continue to cooperate closely with the networks of all sectors, including the public sector, the private sector and civil society,” he added.
RSPO’s CEO Joseph D’Cruz said Thailand finds itself in a unique position to help ensure global food security as the world’s third-largest palm oil producer.
What sets Thailand apart is the capacity of smallholders to propel the Thai palm oil industry, he pointed out.
"RSPO recognises the integral role of smallholders in achieving our overall vision of market transformation; ensuring their greater inclusion in sustainable solutions that positively impact their livelihoods remains one of our main goals," he said.
"We see this as a shared responsibility that all players in the palm oil supply chain must commit to supporting.”
Meanwhile, GIZ country director for Thailand and Malaysia, Reinhold Elges said moving toward sustainable and deforestation-free production and climate change mitigation and adaptation has become an essential pathway to secure food production and meet global demand.
"Mobilising investments to engage oil palm smallholders and enhance their capacity to achieve RSPO certification – which we regard as a viable Shared Responsibility – means upgrading Thailand’s palm oil industry to meet the global market, as well as helping to secure global food supply and reducing negative climate and environmental impacts," he said.
He explained only 19.3 per cent or 14.8 million tonnes of global palm oil supply is RSPO certified and sustainable.
In Thailand, RSPO-certified sustainable palm oil accounts for just 4.97 per cent of the country’s total palm oil supply, he added.
He said GIZ works with both public and private partners to mainstream sustainable palm oil production in the country, such as organising a series of intensive training sessions to improve the capacity of over 3,000 smallholders in sustainable agricultural practices to achieve RSPO certification and gain improved access to international markets.
“Trainers are key in engaging and improving smallholders’ capacity and knowledge on sustainable palm oil production,” he said.
He added that RSPO adopted the Independent Smallholder Standard in 2019, which aims to help more smallholders achieve certification through a stepwise mechanism while adhering to the key sustainability requirements.
"Despite the challenges of the global pandemic, we have witnessed positive progress among smallholders towards achieving ISH certification,” he added.