Solidaridad begins programme for certification of the palm oil industry in Guatemala

In order to foster a sustainable palm oil economy, Solidaridad is supporting a Central American three-year oil palm sustainability programme both financially and with its business know-how concerning sustainable supply chains. The programme aims at improving the standard of living of 7,652 worker families from a total population of 8,334 producer and processor workers, of which 95% are men (7,901) and 5% are women (433) in Guatemala by providing technical assistance to improve the social responsibility performance of producers and processors with respect to their workers, individuals, and communities. Further partners within the Central American Sustainable Palm Oil Value Chain project are the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), CentraRSE, the Proforest Initiative as well as eight local mills and plantation companies.

Palm oil operations are labour intensive. In Guatamala they directly and indirectly generate 62,000 jobs and create directbenefits for over 8,000 families. Plantation managers should be aware of the need to minimize the risk of labour resource loss. More than 50% of the revenues of the target companies participating in this project correspond to international sales. Taking into account that the major global buyers of palm oil have committed to the exclusive purchase of RSPO certified palm oil by 2015, failure to adopt and comply with the RSPO standard would limit the entry of oil into regional and global markets, reducing potential revenues for producers and threatening the stability of labour in the extraction plants.

The target group of this project are eight private palm oil producing companies–Santa Rosa, NaturAceites, Palmas del Ixcán, Las Palmas, NAISA, Agrocaribe, Agroaceites and Unipalma, which together represent 50% of the national production area or 51,000 ha of oil palm production. All 8 local partners are private companies and all of which are members of the Association “Gremial de Palmicultores (GREPALMA)”.

The proposed interventions are focused on creating an internal atmosphere within each of the 8 project partner companies that is conducive to compliance with the RSPO standard.

Production and environmental support activities, to be implemented by WWF; Decent work and operational support activities, to be implemented by CentraRSE , National interpretation for small producing countries (SPC), to be implemented by Proforest Initiative (PFI). Incorporation of small producers into the process of implementation of BMPs, social responsibility and in the simplified national interpretation, to be implemented by WWF, CentraRSE, and The Proforest Initiative (PFI).

The area under Better Management Practices will reach 51,000 ha, or 51% of the total Guatemalan oil palm production area and will comply with RSPO standards. The project seeks to reduce the negative environmental impacts of oil palm plantation and oil extraction plant operations. The project will promote management activities that minimize impacts on high-value conservation areas and native flora and fauna, that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and that increase the efficiency of water and energy use. Compliance with the RSPO standard not only promotes more efficient water and energy use, but also the possibility of increased use of clean or renewable energy sources. Likewise, improved agricultural practices such as a zero-tolerance fire policy and integrated pest management programs can also reduce the emission of greenhouse gases associated with palm oil production.