Cargill and Biocosta lead Colombian smallholders on path to palm oil sustainability

Close to 500 smallholders will improve their production practices with the support from members of the Sustainable Trade Platform.


Update December 2017:

This project has been suspended due to irreconcilable differences between the participating partners. Solidaridad will, of course, continue to facilitate collaboration opportunities for stakeholders in the Colombian palm oil sector.
Cargill, Biocosta and Solidaridad will begin the project this month to improve agricultural practices and living conditions for 482 palm oil smallholders in the Magdalena and Cesar regions of Colombia.


The new programme is aligned with Cargill’s commitment to building a transparent, traceable and 100% sustainable supply chain by 2020, said Robert Horster, trading director for Cargill Refined Oils Europe. “Our goal is to stimulate inclusion of Colombian farmers in the global palm oil market, boosting their livelihoods and establishing best practices in sustainable agriculture,” he explained.


Working towards RSPO certification

The two-year initiative is intended to provide training and technical assistance for the palm oil smallholders. This will allow them to more effectively meet the principles and criteria of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification.


With support from members of the Sustainable Trade Platform, smallholders will increase their productivity and the cost effectiveness of their crops. This will facilitate access to international markets that require sustainable practices and could provide a bonus beyond the standard certified palm oil price.


According to Raúl García, president of Biocosta, a leading company for the export of palm oil in Colombia, the scope and coverage of this project will boost the sustainable development of smallholders that are part of this group. "This will strengthen the palm oil supply system and will give big economic and social benefits to areas of influence for our extractors,” he said.


Research and training in the programme

Smallholders will receive comprehensive training on the technical management of the plantations to improve key aspects such as security and health, and the environmental and social impact of farms.


Additionally, the project will include research to determine which zones have a high conservation value and gain insight on the social and environmental impact that smallholders can generate in the value chain.


Maria Goretti Esquivel, the palm oil programme manager for Solidaridad in Colombia and sector leader in the Sustainable Trade Platform, confirmed this is a significant step for all stakeholders in the Colombian palm oil supply chain for transforming lives through sustainability.  


Did you know?

  • This is the first initiative of Cargill directed at smallholders in Latin America for promoting the production of sustainable palm oil.​
  • Biocosta Group was the first in the country to receive the Certification of International Sustainability and Carbon (ISCC).​
  • Palm oil is one of the three main crops cultivated in Colombia after coffee and bananas. As the market for palm oil production in the country expands, it brings economic growth to the region.


Learn more about Solidaridad’s global palm oil programme.