Supporting and promoting good practices among smallholders

Since 2012, 100% of the fruit received at our mills is certified against the RSPO Principles and Criteria. With 17,325 smallholders and outgrowers associated with NBPOL through the supply of fruit to our mills, they are both a core part of our corporate responsibility and crucial in our journey towards sustainability.

At all of our operations, smallholders are, in principle, independent. They retain legal authority over their land and farming systems choices without any mandatory or contractual obligations to the mill. Financial credit from financial institutions and from NBPOL is unsecured and land cannot be forfeited for default on repayments or other non-compliance. In most cases our company represents the smallholders’ only available FFB market, and on this basis, are referred to as ‘Associated Smallholder’. We, through our Smallholder Affairs Officers, and the Government extension services have a significant level of responsibility for supporting and encouraging the smallholders in being able to meet RSPO requirements.

The support offered by NBPOL ranges from agronomic advice, financial management, health and safety but also topics such as COVID-19. Most smallholders will attend several training and awareness sessions during a year. In 2019 in the Solomon Islands a manual for smallholders which is used as a basis for NBPOL’s ongoing engagement with smallholders. The manual is the result of a joint project with the Earthworm Foundation financially supported by Florin AG. Based on information collected from our sites in 2019 100% of our smallholders have attended at least one awareness and training session, while the vast majority have attended several sessions conducted by NBPOL. In the first half of 2020 NBPOL had to suspend training and awareness due to restrictions related to COVID-19. Since then we have resumed these events with strict social distancing and hygiene measures. We estimate that close to 80% of our smallholders have attended a training and awareness session in 2020. Additionally to the usual topics covered by our extension services in 2020 we have also included COVID-19 prevention in the schedule of training and awareness.

NBPOL made a public commitment in 2009 to not establish new planting on peatlands. This firm commitment applies to all smallholders and outgrowers that are part of, or wish to be a part of, NBPOL’s FFB supply base. In addition, NBPOL introduced a Zero Burn Policy for new developments in 1969. This Zero Burn Policy also applies to all smallholders and outgrowers in NBPOL’s FFB supply base. This is enforced through awareness programs and a stringent planting approval process for smallholders wishing to establish oil palm plantings. GHG emissions reporting and targets that are outlined in NBPOL’s Carbon Reports and Biennial Sustainability Reports is inclusive of all smallholders and outgrowers in our FFB supply base.

In past years, we have increased our focus on the integration of smallholders in our sustainability efforts and are making significant progress. All of our smallholders are now RSPO compliant and are certified as part of the mill’s FFB supply base. NBPOL is now working with Rainforest Alliance to achieve Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) certification for all our operations. Our first estate was SAN certified in March 2017 and we will roll this out to all estates and smallholders progressively over a 5-year period.

Compliance with the NBPOL purchasing policies is continuously monitored during field inspections, HCV monitoring and internal audits. Remote sensing tools are also used to monitor the status of conservation areas, including the ones located around smallholder blocks. There have been no cases of non-compliant landuse change, including deforestation detected in smallholders holdings in 2019 and 2020. NBPOL’s main priority is to maintain and enhance conservation areas, nonetheless in case a non-compliant conversion is detected NBPOL is committed to working with the smallholder(s) in question to restore the areas.

Non-compliant conversion refers to land use change that is not compliant by NBPOL policies such as the Forest Policy, but also the relevant RSPO and RA SAS requirements. Since 2012 NBPOL operates a fully RSPO certified supply chain and as a result since this date all newly established smallholder suppliers are compliant with NBPOL and RSPO requirements.

The recently launched SDP Crosscheck website includes details of all NBPOL estates and all smallholders supplying to NBPOL. The smallholders that are included in the PNG and SI database of smallholders are exclusive suppliers to NBPOL and are all 100% certified under the NBPOL RSPO certificates.

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NBPOL Smallholder Supply Chain Guidelines