With India unveiling the plan to grow oil palm extensively, the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is building awareness among the stakeholders on the need to create a sustainable oil palm ecosystem in the country.

The global organisation, with over 5,400 members in 102 countries, has said it is trying to avoid the ecological issues that countries such as Indonesia faced as they expanded oil palm cultivation. The members include industries, farmers, non-governmental organisations and all other stakeholders in the oil palm ecosystem.

“We are already have 150 members in India. We are in talks with various governments to impress upon them on the need to pitch for sustainable oil palm development,” Shivnayan Aggarwal, Executive (Market Transformation – India), told businessline.

The RSPO platform has about 4.80 million hectares of certified area, with over 15 million tonnes of oil certified by it. About 19 per cent of all the palm oil globally is certified by the RSPO.

“The RSPO certification is voluntary but it is highly regarded,” he said. He said India, the largest consumer and biggest importer of palm oil, was an important region for the organisation. To reduce the burden of edible oil imports, the government has targetted to cultivate oil palm in 6.50 lakh hectares in 14 States in the next five years.

As it chose to increase oil palm cultivation, India made a wise choice in making it a substitution crop instead of cutting the forest area to make the way for the oil crop, he said.

The organisation claims that RSPO Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) reduces the impact of global warming by 35 per cent when compared with non-certfied palm oil.

Smallholder farmers

Of the total area under RSPO certification, the area managed by 1.60 lakh smallholder farmers constitute about 4.60 lakh acres. The total FFB (Fresh Fruit Bunches) certified for this section of farmers stood at about 83 lakh tonnes.

RSPO, along with Centre for Responsbile Business, Rainforest Alliance and WWF-India, has flated the Sustainable Palm Oil Coalition for India (I-SPOC) in 2018 to promote sustainable consumption and trade of palm oil and its derivates.