Welcome to the latest news from SHARP, a multi-stakeholder partnership aimed at sustainable smallholder development, while minimising deforestation and improving livelihoods.


RSPO endorses field testing of smallholder-specific HCV approach 


RSPO took an important step to facilitate certification of smallholders in early February when the RSPO biodiversity and HCVs working group endorsed field testing of a simplified HCV approach for use outside high-risk situations. Actors taking part in controlled field trials will now be considered as fulfilling RSPO's HCV assessment requirements.


The news follows pilots organised by SHARP in Brazil, Colombia, Honduras and Ghana during 2014. For more details, click here




Indonesian farmers describe challenges

How can oil-palm smallholders comply with responsible sourcing standards? At a workshop in Indonesia's Riau Province last December, farmers told SHARP they are aware of the principles and criteria of RSPO certification, but face several obstacles to achieving best practice. Many cleared their plantations after 2005 without conducting an HCV assessment and now need guidance on meeting deforestation standards. 

Another issue is lack of formal land title. Participants agreed that support from external parties will be needed to address their sustainability issues. For details, contact Dani Rahadian at DHidayat@snvworld.org.

Ghana field tests

SHARP's West and Central Africa team have field tested a tool for precautionary

practices. Testing took place with oil-palm smallholders in Ghana in October 2014,

alongside the simplified HCV approach testing. For details, contact Christian Mensah

at cmensah@ra.org.



LatAm exchange

SHARP organised a series of meetings in 2014 for palm oil companies and organisations to share experiences in working with smallholders in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Honduras. Click here for a full report.


Partnership news

SHARP's annual review for 2014 is out. Read it here

The SHARP secretariat has surveyed members to find out what kind of information they would like to receive. This newsletter is one of the fruits of the feedback. You can also expect more updates and smallholder-related resources on the SHARP website.



Liberia work to continue 


The Ebola crisis in West Africa has been devastating for public health but also disrupted livelihoods and businesses. During the second half of 2014, SHARP was forced to suspend activities in Liberia. 


We are hopeful that the crisis is lifting and plan to re-engage with our partners in 2015 to continue collaborations on outgrower models in palm oil. There is much work to be done to gain support of industry stakeholders and test models. For an overview of SHARP's work in Liberia to date, click here and here.




Partners to launch soy and tobacco pilots of the RSS approach


SHARP has partnered with RSB (Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials), Fauna & Flora International and SPVS (Nature Conservancy and the Society for Wildlife Research and Environmental Education) in Brazil to implement a pilot project with a group of small farmers growing soy bean and tobacco in Paraná state.

The project aims to consolidate SHARP and RSB approaches for smallholders in south Brazil, providing guidance on sustainable practices recognised by the market. Activities include field testing SHARP's RSS (Responsible Sourcing from Smallholders) tool while the producers are undergoing the RSB certification process using RSB's Smallholder Standard for Certification of Smallholder Groups. The first field visit takes place in March. www.rsb.org.

Towards certification

In Honduras, SHARP will be working with Jaremar and the smallholder association Unpala in the coming months with the aim of using the RSS approach as a tool to achieve RSPO certification for smallholders. Jaremar, a palm oil-producing company, has more than 1,000 independent smallholders in its supply base. Lessons learned from this project will be shared with local and regional organisations.



Innovations in finance

Look out on the SHARP website for a forthcoming study on the potential of the buyer advance system as a source of finance for smallholders in Ghana.


RSS field tests coming to Sumatra

Southeast Asia partner, SNV, is preparing to field test the RSS approach with palm oil smallholders in Indonesia's Jambi and Riau provinces.


Tanzanian farmers eye certification 


Like many other countries around the world, Tanzania is witnessing rising investor and policy interest in palm oil production. The NGO Seed Change Tanzania works with

smallholder palm oil producers in the north-west region of Kigoma to improve yields, sustainability and market links.


The farmers recently started a process to gain RSPO certification. Beatrice Fuchs of the organisation reports: "We are struggling with the limited amount of resources

tailored to smallholder groups and the restrictively high fees associated with RSPO certification and HCV assessment, but we continue to look for new approaches and strategies to reach our end goal of ensuring Seed Change smallholder farmers are producing certified sustainable palm oil." See www.seedchangetanzania.org for more.

Public-private initiatives in smallholder supply


Unilever has launched an initiative to invest in business models and private companies in Africa, South Asia and Latin America with the aim of linking smallholders to global supply chains. Details here.


Mars and Danone have also announced an investment fund for sustainable agriculture projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America which, they say, will help companies learn how to sustainably source materials from smallholder farmers.