Dozens multinational organizations sets to presents their innovations in Smallholders Advancing with Technology and Innovation (SAWIT) Challenge final next month, aiming to help smallholder palm oil farmers to meet sustainability standard in the industry. (Antara Photo/Septianda Perdana)

SAWIT Challenge to Provide Sustainable Practices for Smallholder Farmers

BY :RATRI M. SINIWI

OCTOBER 13, 2016

Kuala Lumpur. Dozens of multinational organizations are set to present innovations to the Smallholders Advancing with Technology and Innovation, or Sawit, Challenge final next month, aiming to help smallholder palm oil farmers meet sustainability standards in the industry.

Smallholder farmers represented 42 percent of the Indonesian market in 2014 and are predicted to reach 50 percent in 2020, overtaking the projected corporate share of 45 percent. However, financial and technical constraints mean many farmers still practice environmentally damaging forms of planting, exacerbating the country's tough battle striving towards sustainable palm.

Ideas pitched to the competition include innovations in sustainable palm oil farming practices by local agribusiness company Pandawa Agri and Indonesian Oil Palm Research Institute. The practices include the use of a locally produced organic herbicide and access to high quality seeds.

A consortium between Indonesian and Dutch NGOs has proposed new financing scheme for farmers, while other NGOs from the Netherlands and the United States puts forward a technology platform to map land rights.

The Sawit Challenge finalists will pitch their ideas on Nov. 17 and 18 to organizations such as the country’s largest lender by assets Bank Mandiri, Singaporean palm oil plantation company Golden Agri Resources, global agribusiness Cargill, Indonesian Biodiversity Foundation KEHATI, US snack maker Mondelez and think-tank World Resources Institute.

Each company or organization will choose innovations to help finance and implement in Indonesia.

The competition is a collaborated effort of the Oil Palm Smallholders Union (SPKS) and the Indonesia Business Council for Sustainable Development (IBSCD), supported by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).

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