Fair & Social is Possible

Published on: January 23, 2023

In terms of income and perspectives for new generations, the agricultural sector is an unequal sector of the economy. While palm oil development has fueled economic growth and reduced poverty in rural areas, its benefits are distributed unequally across and within palm growing countries.

Plantation employees filling a survey as part of a social impact assessment.

The International Institute for Sustainable Development published and interesting article about the role of agricultural trade in reducing inequality and how agricultural trade can mitigate inequalities: “One factor to ensure broad-based benefits from agricultural trade is guaranteeing equal access and economic opportunities for women, youth, small farmers, and other vulnerable groups. To reduce the potentially negative effects of exposure to greater competition from food imports, smallholder farmers need access to finance, inputs, knowledge, markets, and viable opportunities for diversifying sources of income, including off the farm.”

To improve local conditions, companies on the ground in rural areas can play an important role in providing access to services as well as linking farmers to international supply chains. Here’s how Palm Done Right contributes.

Meeting Our Promise
We consider our Fair and Social Promise as a foundational part of our Palm Done Right Model. We are meeting our promise through our operational model, our adherence to certification standards, and through the social projects we have developed for and with our farming communities.

What It Means
But what does fair & social actually mean? To us it means every person in our supply chain benefits from our approach. Since our inception in 2009 we have been actively executing our Palm Done Right vision. We have chosen to work with independent farmers in Ecuador, linking farmers to manufacturers, brands, retailers and consumers in the markets we supply. Engaging customers to reward organic, sustainable, and ethical practices has been key in our vision as well.

Diversity
Linking smallholders to markets brings opportunities and economic progress to the rural areas. Yet we also believe that we harvest better solutions when we bring a variety of perspectives to the challenges we face. That is also a benefits of working with a diverse farmer network. To date almost half of our productive hectares are managed by smallholder farmers.

As part of our commitment to diversity and inclusion we have been supporting social projects to help build stronger communities in our operational areas. For instance, the medical care we provide for our employees, farmers, and communities. This includes a medical clinic in our mill and providing the services of two doctors to provide medical services.

In 2011 we started a Soccer School Project, in which 200–250 children participate annually. Over time we set up five soccer schools in different communities. As going to school is a prerequisite for joining the soccer trainings, children are motivated to stay in school, creating more perspectives for them, their families and their communities.

Long Term Commitment
Policies and certification standards are key to ensure proper procedures are in place to create supportive and inclusive work environments. This includes making sure that contracts are signed before commencing work, fair prices and wages are paid, work schedules are adhered to, and housing and clean water are provided.

As part of our long-term commitment to the farmers in our network, we support, train and certify them. As it takes time and effort to realise the transition to organic, sustainable, and ethical practices, our team of agronomists and compliance experts are in the field daily to guide the process. The farmers that completed the transition and are certified by the standards we operate by, we pay them a premium for their fresh fruit bunches.

Supporting Associations
The fair-trade vision stimulates farmers and workers to organize themselves in associations and bargain collectively. When the first independent farmers joined our organic palm oil journey in 2011, we helped form Ecuador’s first organic producer associations. Since then, we helped set up four more associations.

One of the roles of the associations is to manage social and environmental projects, funded through an additional premium some of our customers pay. Housing, clean water, medical, cultural, and environmental protection projects have been realised through working with the assocations.

How Fair & Social are you?
Collaboration is key to create broad-based benefits and perspectives in rural areas. This is where you can contribute. How? Well, by choosing to source ingredients from supply chains that actively integrate and work with smallholders.

Millions of smallholders are out in the field every day to manage their farms and supply markets with their incredredibly functional and high-quality oil. When you understand your sources and know who you buy from and who you reward, you can be fair and social too.

To read more about what we do to ensure fair & social palm production, please use this link to open our Impact Report.

Written by Monique van WijnbergenNatural Habitat’s Sustainability & Corporate Communications Director and spokesperson for Palm Done Right

Why You Should Get Involved
with Palm Done Right

Palm can be grown for good, bringing benefits to:

  • Our planet, due to palm oil’s land efficiency.
  • Local communities, due to the economic development oil palm production creates.
  • Our market, due to palm oil’s versatility and functionality as an ingredient, lifting product quality and performance.

Together, we can influence change for:

  • Manufacturers that are still using conflict palm oil for their products.
  • Retailers that are still listing products that contain conflict palm oil.
  • Brokers and distributors that are still supplying their customers with products that contain conflict palm oil.
  • Shoppers that have the power to vote with their dollar.

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