More than 400,000 Malaysian family farmers will become certified producers of sustainable palm oil under the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification standard. The equivalent of $13 million dollars has been allocated to help these independent farmers, who have been using environmentally responsible practices for years, to afford the sustainable certification. The Malaysian Palm Oil Board is driving the MSPO certification.

Most of the United State’s palm oil supply comes from the progressive county of Malaysia where more than 40 percent of the oil palm planted area is tended by family farmers, also called smallholders. Once they attain MSPO certification, these Malaysian smallholders will join other Malaysian sustainable palm oil producers in filling America’s demand for responsibly produced palm oil.

Many of Malaysia’s oil palm family farmers belong to associations which provide assistance to the plantation owners. One of the largest is the National Association of Smallholders (NASH). “For independent smallholders with oil palm land size of 40 hectares and below, it is just too expensive to fork out the certification fee,” said NASH President Datuk Aliasak Ambia. He explained that smallholders are becoming more aware of the importance of getting their plantations certified due to North America’s and Europe’s increasing demand for certified sustainable palm oil products.

Aliasak wants the MSPO certification to be recognized throughout the world. “It is also important to highlight that Malaysian palm oil is of superior quality and sustainably produced from plantation to the table of the consumers,” he said.

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The MSPO certification for independent smallholders could begin soon. “I believe once the grant has been disbursed accordingly, the auditing process can be carried out almost immediately,” he said. “There are 64 smallholder cooperatives nationwide. We plan to tap into their resources and pool the smallholders into groupings to make it easier for the auditing for MSPO certification to be carried out.”

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