In Brazil, the fruits of oil palm cultivation help ensure safe practices

Solidaridad and Archer Daniels Midland (ADM)—a company that turns crops into renewable products—have recently begun a project in the Brazilian state of Pará, which is situated in the Amazon biome. The main goal of the project is to enhance the smallholders and labourers knowledge and implementation regarding sustainable field practices.

This joint project involves 268 smallholders and their families, and 280 rural workers. It focuses on developing capacity for Good Agricultural Practices alongside social, environmental, financial and administrative management.

The majority of smallholder producers in Pará grow annual crops, mostly for subsistence  and using traditional agricultural practices. They combine this with extractive activities to support their livelihoods.

Since 2010, oil palm cultivation in Pará has been encouraged by the Brazilian Government so as to recuperate degraded pasture lands. This has been carried out following an inclusive scheme where mills commit to buy fruit from family farmers, which in turn, secures stable income generation for such farmers.

To ensure that only family labour is employed, and that part of the land is retained for other food crops like the traditional cassava and the native palm fruit acai, the Brazilian Government limits the size of smallholder oil palm plots to 10 hectares.

Within this context, producers who want to adopt oil palm production need to overcome two main challenges. First, initial high investments are coupled  with long-cycle crops that give no immediate returns. Second, meeting high quality and delivery demands under long-term contracts with the Amazon Development Bank and ADM.

In order to address these challenges, smallholders have already started training and building capacity in the following areas:

  • Associations;
  • Health and safety in palm oil production;
  • Agrochemical application;
  • Rural property management; and
  • Basic ecology.

Additionally, ADM’s rural workers, especially those who are active on directly managed plantations, will be trained on health and safety issues. ADM’s high internal standards and rigorous trainings assure full compliance with Brazil’s stringent health and safety laws for rural workers. In poorly developed areas such as the Amazon, this is no easy task and will have an impact beyond just the work environment.

Rural Horizons guide for oil palm smallholders

Rural Horizons is an expert system specially designed to support continual improvement in agricultural production and to strengthen partnerships throughout the supply chain. With this tool, a guide for Brazilian oil palm smallholders will be developed.

Why? Rural Horizons allows producers and managers to make a quick scan of their production system and to benchmark their performance with that of their peers or against any standard or legislation.

In this project, the performance will be benchmarked against Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and Brazilian legislation. Unlike traditional monitoring or compliance systems, Rural Horizons relies on farmers and partners for project design, implementation and evaluation.

This new partnership with ADM expands the work of Solidaridad with important players in the palm oil supply chain and helps us achieve sectoral impact by scaling up sustainable best practices for palm oil in Brazil.

Learn more about Solidaridad programmes for palm oil.