CIPS Researcher Urges RSPO and ISPO Certification Harmonization

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As demand for sustainable agriculture and food products increases, the urgency of traceability in the supply chain also grows. This is why the Center for Indonesian Policy Studies (CIPS) researcher, Mukhammad Faisol Amir, says it is becoming increasingly necessary to harmonize the certification standards for palm oil products in Indonesia. Currently, there are two certification schemes, namely the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO), which have different standards.

According to Faisol, the overlapping standards between these two certification schemes make it complicated to ensure traceability. He believes that harmonizing these standards is essential to expand Indonesia's export market access.

Faisol explains that traceability is the ability to track the movement of food products through specific production, processing, and distribution stages, as defined by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in the International Food Standard (Codex Alimentarius).

RSPO is the world's first global sustainability certification for palm oil, established in April 2004. It is a form of global governance involving stakeholders from seven different industry sectors, including producers, processors or traders, consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, banks/investors, and environmental and social NGOs. RSPO monitors third-party compliance with its standards, especially in terms of land performance, social and environmental aspects.

ISPO, on the other hand, was launched in 2011 as a government scheme with strong support from the Indonesian Palm Oil Entrepreneurs Association (Gapki). In practice, ISPO combines several government regulations on palm oil production into one instrument.

CIPS's latest research recommends that changes be made to the Minister of Agriculture Regulation No. 38/2020 on ISPO certification to accommodate more independent farmers and increase their absorption into ISPO certification.

In terms of land legality, management, and compliance with regulations, ISPO can follow RSPO's standard flexibility by recognizing a statement or oath from the village head as proof of land ownership. Meanwhile, if small farmers do not have land certificates (SHM) during the certification audit, they can be allowed to use a letter from the local plantation agency during the audit if the documents for the plantation business registration certificate (STD-B) and Environmental Management Statement (SPPL) are still in the process.

Regarding the implementation of good agricultural practices, small farmers can apply for ISPO certification individually or in groups, as stated in Article 11 Paragraph 2. However, in Principle 2 of the certification standards, small farmers are considered ineligible if they cannot demonstrate that they are members of a cooperative or other small farmer group.

According to Faisol, harmonizing the RSPO and ISPO certification standards is crucial to facilitate the expansion of the palm oil industry's export market access.

Sources: Bloombergtechnoz

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