In collaboration with MARS and Fuji Oil, Sinar Mas Agribusiness and Food announced the Sawit Terampil program, a skills development program for more than 4,000 independent smallholders from the Leuser Ecosystem in Aceh and North Sumatra. This program builds on traceability initiatives to Sinar Mas Agribusiness and Food plantations, whereby at the end of 2021, the Company has successfully mapped 95 percent of its supply chain. Through the Sawit Terampil program, Sinar Mas Agribusiness and Food seeks to help improve the livelihoods of the identified farmers.
The Sawit Terampil program aims to provide comprehensive support for independent smallholders through group training and individual support to implement good agricultural practices. A series of capacity-building training and mentoring sessions were conducted to transfer knowledge to independent smallholders so that they can improve their cultivation methods and reach the stage of being ready to get Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) and Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certifications, which are expected to help improve their income.
"Improving the capacity of farmers and suppliers through knowledge transfer is the key to implementing sustainable agricultural practices. Based on the information we obtain through our traceability initiatives, we are able to analyze potential gaps in productivity, yields, and agricultural practices and provide appropriate support to farmers," said Anita Neville, Chief Sustainability & Communications Officer of Sinar Mas Agribusiness and Food, in before partners and suppliers in a webinar entitled "Traceability in Sustainable Palm Oil – What's Next?"
Head of Traceable & Transparent Production Sinar Mas Agribusiness and Food, Wahyu Wigati Wijayanti, opened the panel discussion by explaining how the Company actively involves farmers in a training series to improve sustainable farming practices. She explained, "The Sawit Terampil program has been implemented in 10 districts in North Sumatra and Aceh and will run until December 2023. Since The Company implemented this program, around 61 percent of participants have understood the practice of sustainable oil palm cultivation more than before they joined the program."
"In the future, we want to help farmers who are ready to obtain ISPO and RSPO certification. We continue to welcome new opportunities to work with potential partners to help farmers and the agricultural sector grow," Wahyu added.
Sinar Mas Agribusiness and Food believe that improving smallholder livelihoods is a shared responsibility and requires contributions from all stakeholders in the value chain, including farmers, processors, traders, and end-user producers. The Company has developed an ecosystem of knowledge supported by financing partners to help implement the Sawit Terampil program. This development includes Koltiva, an Agritech company, as implementing partner; SMART Research Institute (SMARTRI), the Company's research division in agronomic practices, as mentors; and MARS and Fuji Oil, which have similar commitments to the Company.
Koltiva supports the Sawit Terampil program with a comprehensive technology ecosystem, KoltiTrace, agronomists, and field agents to help farmers achieve sustainability standards. "Our data-driven coaching methodology combines technology with agronomists in the field to increase the effectiveness of traditional capacity-building programs. By accepting suggestions for implementing agricultural practices that have been compiled based on data, we hope to improve farmers' livelihoods and help preserve the environment," said Chief Operating Officer of Koltiva, Ainu Rofiq.
Rukaiyah Rafik, Principal of the Farmers School of the Sustainable Palm Oil Farmers Forum, emphasized that lack of knowledge and education often hinders farmers. She stated that farmers have low yields because of the fruit's variety and quality. The high illiteracy among farmers makes it difficult to record production and other agricultural activities correctly. However, these challenges can be overcome with targeted assistance and knowledge transfer, such as the Sawit Terampil program.
Sinar Mas Agribusiness and Food and its partners believe that the Sawit Terampil program is another important step to involve suppliers in the transformation process. The Company will also continue to share its experiences and best practices with suppliers to encourage a responsible and resilient industry.