Indigenous Smallholders: Lessons Learned from the Field

The following is an excerpt from a blog written by Conal Judd-English about an indigenous smallholders study tour that he and Judith Murdoch went on in Malaysia in December 2022.  

Working on sustainable sourcing of palm oil in the UK, we are quite removed from the practical realities being played out in countries where the commodity is being produced, and from the lives of people directly involved in producing it.

Here, we are operating thousands of miles and several stages in a complex supply chain away from where oil palm trees are grown, fruits harvested, and oil extracted to begin its journey to becoming a composite part of one of our favourite snacks. Despite knowing what palm oil is, how important sustainable production of it is to people and the planet, and what businesses in the UK can do to ensure they are sourcing it responsibly, being able to observe the crop being produced first-hand and interact with the people doing so shows some of the practical realities of conversations we have and policies we implement here in the UK.

As part of the 2022 Wild Asia Smallholder Study Journey, we were able to spend some time with Orang Asli people of the Semai tribe in Kampar, Perak, Malaysia. Their village, Kg Chenderong Kelubi, was the first indigenous village to be supported by Wild Asia in achieving RSPO certification for their oil palm plots under the Wild Asia Group Smallholder (WAGS) scheme.

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