On April 11, 2022, Danone, L’Oréal, Mars, Incorporated, the Livelihoods Funds, Musim Mas, and SNV partnered to advance regenerative agriculture in North Sumatra, Indonesia.
The project, spanning ten years, aims to sustain a deforestation-free supply chain, regenerate 8000 hectares (20,000 acres) of degraded land, restore local biodiversity in 3500 hectares, and improve the livelihoods of 2500 independent smallholder farmers.
Through its Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming (L3F), the Livelihoods Funds have developed an innovative approach where independent smallholders can combine better yields, restore biodiversity, and diversify their income.
“SNV is thrilled to be part of this initiative and coalition. With its innovative approach, the project will support the independent smallholders in the supply chain and combine their good practice with regenerative agriculture, agroforestry, income diversification, and biodiversity conservation in the landscape. We are confident that our expertise and experience in the sustainable palm oil program for the last eight years will contribute positively to the project,” said Rizki Pandu Permana, Country Director SNV Indonesia.
The project will be piloted on oil palm smallholders enrolled in Musim Mas’ smallholders program that encourages them to plant sustainably, gain access to sustainable markets, and attain sustainability certifications, such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
“At Danone, we are committed to source our ingredients sustainably. A key part of this is supporting farmers in the transition to regenerative agriculture, with positive impact for the planet and for people. We are excited to support this project and show how regenerative agriculture practices can prevent deforestation and land conversion in Indonesia, while increasing income and livelihoods,” said Gemma Brierley, Global Director of Responsible Sourcing and Human Rights, Danone.
Mars and Danone, who source palm oil products through MusimMas, are also co-founders and funders of the Livelihoods fund for Family Farming. L’Oréal has committed to source palm kernel oil produced by the independent smallholders from the project area through Musim Mas’ mill.
SNV will build on Musim Mas’ smallholders program to integrate and advance regenerative agriculture. The project will also empower smallholders with access to financial facilities for replanting, which would be of value to smallholders in North Sumatra as 50 percent of oil palms in the project area are due for replanting within ten years.
Independent smallholders are usually disadvantaged due to the lack of access to updated technical and operational knowledge, limited access to markets, and financial resources. The result is often lower yield, productivity, profitability, and sustainability standards. As smallholders depend on the forests and environment for their livelihood, it is essential to promote sustainable oil palm production to ensure resilience and long-term economic growth.
With a regenerative agriculture system in place, the project aims to regenerate smallholders’ farms, increase their yield, improve their farms’ biodiversity by improving soil health and integrated pest management, and increase and diversify farmers’ income through intercropping.
“This 10-year project relies on a 360-degree approach where smallholders can combine better yields, restored biodiversity and diversified sources of income. To succeed in this transformation, Livelihoods has designed a coalition of both private and public actors involved at every step of the palm value chain, from businesses to NGOs: they are all contractually engaged on the long-term goals of the project and put together complementary means to reach them,” explained Bernard Giraud, President and Co-Founder of the Livelihoods Funds.
The project intends to promote non-palm agroforestry models for palm farms near riparian areas, farms approaching replanting periods, and for highly degraded areas inside forest areas. Intervention in these sensitive areas will serve as a buffer between palm farms and protected forests.
“At Mars, we believe that collaboration is needed to take action on big issues facing our global community. We’re proud to promote sustainable palm oil production through this project to advance regenerative agriculture and support the production of palm oil products from independent smallholder farmers,” said Alastair Child, Chief Sustainability Officer, Mars Wrigley.
The project also focuses on female empowerment, working to balance decision-making power within smallholders’ farms regarding access to and control over resources regarding, for example, intercropping activities.
“Investing in smallholders is a business case for Musim Mas. Our partnership in North Sumatra builds upon our smallholders program and demonstrates that sustainable palm has the potential to improve the environment and lift communities out of poverty,” said Olivier Tichit, Director of Sustainable Supply Chain at Musim Mas. “This project is a reflection of how every actor has something to bring to the table, and we can leverage on the strengths of each other.”
Musim Mas’ remote sensing capabilities will feed into the project’s progress and impact on land-use change, deforestation, and degradation of land cover around the project area. In addition, the Livelihoods fund for Family Farming will assess and monitor biodiversity management at the soil, farm, and landscape levels.
Photo of orangutan in Sumatra via Pixabay.