Welcome to the latest news from SHARP, a multi-stakeholder partnership that works with the private sector towards sustainable smallholder development and minimising deforestation.
Brazil soy project shows potential use of RSS in implementing standards

Good progress has been made in the project to assess how SHARP's Responsible Sourcing from Smallholders framework could be integrated with the smallholder group standard of the Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials among soy farmers in Brazil. Working with a partnership of the RSB, Fauna & Fauna International and SPVS (Nature Conservancy and the Society for Wildlife Research and Environmental Education), seven trial farmers have adopted both approaches to test for compatibility.

In June, a workshop with farmers and other local stakeholders was held to discuss outcomes of this initial phase. Comparing the RSS requirements with the RSB indicators, there is a clear synergy between the two approaches. RSS can help to implement the RSB within a local context and articulate the needs of stakeholders. In Brazil, farmers are particularly concerned about lack of healthcare and monitoring of pesticide use (see photo above). Flexible RSS work plans can accommodate these concerns, which can be integrated alongside RSB indicators and risk mitigation procedures.

Overall, this project has demonstrated the potential of RSS as a practical guide to help smallholders progress towards certification.

HCV field tests yield early findings

Trials of the simplified HCV approach for smallholders have been taking place in recent months among farmers in Ghana, Honduras, Indonesia and Tanzania. As we reported in SHARP's June newsletter, the approach has been endorsed by the RSPO for field testing.

The approach, designed for smallholders to manage and monitor High Conservation Values, uses a Group Manager to oversee the process. An important step is for the Group Manager to hold workshops with smallholders to raise awareness, confirm the presence of HCVs in farmland and discuss precautionary practices. Key findings so far:
  • The Group Manager should be well prepared and have good internal systems. Capacity-building for Group Managers is important, even in situations where there is already some understanding of the HCV concept.
  • Good coordination between the Group Manager, support staff and stakeholder organisations is critical.
  • Participants find the workshops useful and they help the Group Manager to refine information.
  • The presentation materials are easy to use but would benefit from more pictures and charts.
SHARP teams have been preparing a user's manual and are developing more visual documentation in Spanish.
Lenders reveal priorities for smallholder finance
A study conducted for SHARP by the Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade (FAST) has found that the contentious reputation of palm oil is deterring financial service providers from lending to the industry in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Survey responses suggest that smallholder producers will increase their access to finance if they can gain certification or otherwise demonstrate to lenders an assurance of sustainability. Click here for further findings and the report.

Honduran HCV
Continuing the work with Jaremar and the Unpala association in Honduras (see June's newsletter), three HCV workshops were facilitated in July with 71 participants, including 34 oil palm smallholders.

RSPO update
On 27 July the SHARP secretariat and the HCV Resource Network organised a webinar for the RSPO taskforce on HCV and smallholders, as well as participating field-testing organisations, to discuss the main findings so far from the HCV field tests. Subsequently, the taskforce also met on 6 August in Kuala Lumpur.

Based on discussions at both meetings, a revised version of the HCV for smallholder approach is being produced and expected to be available at the beginning of October 2015.

SNV and partners explore options for extending RSS framework to rubber

SHARP regional focal point for southeast Asia, SNV, is looking to apply the SHARP RSS framework to its smallholder rubber programme in Indonesia. This will build on field tests in the region of the simplified HCV approach for smallholders in the palm oil sector, as well as SNV's Better Management Practices for natural rubber latex producers. SNV recently launched its rubber programme in Jambi Province in Sumatra.  

Drawing on work of Conservation International, SNV hopes to use its High Impact Training approach to implement this model. Discussions have already opened with the Rubber Producers Association and local government in Jambi, to help understand the downstream supply chain. 

Proforest's Southeast Asia regional office and SNV Indonesia are also developing a concept to assess the environmental risk and impact of forest conversion for rubber production. This will help inform proposals for an international standard on sustainable rubber production, currently under development by the International Rubber Study Group.  

For more information, read the full story on the SHARP website or contact Surin@proforest.net.
Photo: Aulia Erlangga for CIFOR
Tanzanian trials move to next phase
In Kigoma, where Seed Change Tanzania has been overseeing trials of the simplified HCV approach for smallholders, regular meetings will be held with oil palm farmers in the months ahead to check adherence with precautionary practices they developed during previous workshops. Seed Change has also applied for funding to expand the HCV training series to all oil palm farmers and villages that it works with in the near future. For more information, visit www.seedchangetanzania.org.

SHARP and Proforest are exploring options with Procter & Gamble to support independent smallholder farmers in its Malaysian PKO supply chain to adopt sustainable practices. Around 60% of the palm kernel oil sourced by P&G is produced by smallholders (see here). 
Linked to this initiative is the collaborative development of the Smallholder Supply Chain Risk Assessment Model ("SHRAM") to map risks to High Conservation Values. This would seek to combine the expertise and resources of a range of actors in Malaysia and beyond, including WRI and Daemeter. 
Lessons learned from the ground

Three new research reports to chew over, with implications for the design of agribusiness developments.

A new report highlights eight enabling factors that influence public-private-producer partnerships (PPPPs) in agricultural value chains involving small-scale farmers. A palm oil initiative in Uganda is one of four PPPPs studied by researchers from IFAD and the Institute of Development Studies, who conclude that farmer ownership of the partnerships is critical to success. To read the report, click here

Research by Tania Li for CIFOR focuses on gendered impacts of oil palm development in Kalimantan, Indonesia. The study highlights challenges for plantation workers and the differentiated impacts of expansion on local residents, such as women losing income from rubber tapping. Li recommends greater expansion of independent smallholders, as opposed to corporate plantations, in future. The report can be downloaded here


For a different perspective on how smallholder communities can be positively and negatively affected by private-sector investment, SEI has published findings from a study of a sugarcane bioethanol development in Sierra Leone. A policy brief is available here.


Photo: USAID 
Last chance for POIG public comments
The Palm Oil Innovation Group (POIG) launched a public consultation for a series of indicators for auditing compliance with the POIG Charter. Support to smallholders is included as an area for auditing. Consultation closes soon (4 September). Go to http://poig.org/poig-trial-audit-indicators/ to take part.