Dr. Sanath Kumaran

The oil palm sector in Malaysia is one of the main pillars of the Malaysian economy, contributing close to 43% of the agriculture GDP and earning on an average of USD16 billion in annual exports. The oil palm sector also provides direct and indirect employment to over 2 million people in Malaysia, apart from raising the income of small farmers, who on the average own or manage farms less than 4 hectares. In total, independent small farmers, own 979,758 hectares of oil palm areas accounting for 17% of the total oil palm planted area in Malaysia. The success story of this industry over the last century, has been negated by implications that the oil palm sector is a direct cause of deforestation, contributing to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions through fires and planting on drained peat lands, harbouring exploitative human rights practices in the workforce, and lack of good governance and transparency. One tool to demonstrate implementation of good practices is through third party independent certification systems. Currently, at the global level, voluntary certification schemes have coverage of approximately 30% of the oil palm cultivated area. As such, the footprint of voluntary certification schemes will never be able to completely reach 100% of the users of the certification system. With the ambitious move for the implementation of a mandatory national certification system, Malaysia aims to cover the entire oil palm planted area through Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) Certification Scheme. The MSPO Certification Scheme is the national scheme in Malaysia for oil palm plantations, independent and organised smallholdings, and palm oil processing facilities to be certified against the requirements of the MSPO Standards. The MSPO Certification Scheme allows for oil palm management certification and supply chain certification and provides for development of certification standards; accreditation requirements and notification of certification bodies; application by potential clients for certification audits; supply chain traceability requirements; guidelines for auditing; peer reviewing of audit reports; issuance of logo usage licenses and procedures for handling of complaints. The fundamental enabling measures that are needed to make MSPO Certification successfully implemented in Malaysia is described in this paper.
24 May, 2019
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