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Do smallholders hold the key to sustainable palm oil?


While reports of rainforest destruction wrought by large plantation firms continue to emerge, recent studies have also pointed to the role of smallholder farmers—oil palm growers who cultivate palm in an area not exceeding 25 hectares—as growing sources of environmental damage. New data from a satellite monitoring system called Starling, for instance, indicates that rainforest loss in Indonesia is now mainly driven by smallholders nibbling at the edges of forests rather than by industrial-scale tree felling.

Consequently, the industry is now paying concerted attention to the challenges smallholders face in switching to sustainable palm oil, and the solutions that could help these farmers overcome them, says Anita Neville, vice president of corporate communications and sustainability relations at Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), the world’s second largest palm oil producer.

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