Training smallholders to improve production practices while respecting the environment

This autumn Wilmar succesfully closed a programme in Honduras to educate smallholders on sustainable palm oil production.

Wilmar recognises its fundamental role in the sustainable transformation of the palm oil industry. Wilmar’s ‘No Deforestation, No development on Peat and No Exploitation’ (NDPE) policy was launched in 2013 with a requirement to include smallholders in the global supply chain. Therefore, Wilmar established several programmes worldwide to educate smallholders (<50 ha plantation size) on sustainable palm oil production. One of these programmes was launched in 2016 in Honduras, a growing palm oil export market.

‘Wilmar Smallholders Support Honduras’ (WISSH) was developed with the aim to train smallholders to improve production practices while respecting the environment. The programme started in partnership with nine palm oil mills of AIPAH (Asociación Industrial de Productores de Aceite de Palma de Honduras) and NES Naturaleza (NES) as the implementer of the programme. A unique train-the-trainer method was used to share the knowledge. Each mill assigned 5-6 employees (supervisors, 50 in total) to receive extensive training by NES.

Afterwards, the supervisors, together with NES, trained 3,300 smallholders in 488 training sessions on topics such as the need for zero deforestation, good environmental and agricultural practices, improved business skills, and social responsibility. In the sessions different techniques were used including role play and visualisation exercises, complemented with a specific training manual in form of a booklet. The programme also introduced a mobile application (app) to facilitate crop management and allow farmers to monitor and control different field activities simply on their mobile phone.

In the end of the programme surveys were conducted, which show that more than 96 percent applied the acquired knowledge on their plantations, saw improvements to yields and quality of life, and wanted the programme to continue. Moreover, NES undertook 160 smallholder assessments to examine how the acquired knowledge was implemented. Although considerable progress was observed, no smallholder was able to implement all sustainable practices learnt. Consequently, each mill received an action plan with findings and solutions based upon these assessments.

NDPE policy
With WISSH, Wilmar aims not only to empower smallholders by increasing technical capacity and improving their livelihoods, but at the same time secure their compliance with Wilmar’s NDPE policy. The programme strengthens the smallholders and brings them a step closer to international sustainability requirements.