Asian Agri and Apical celebrate first RSPO certification for independent smallholders under SMILE programme

PANGKALAN KERINCI, Indonesia, July 26, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Asian Agri, one of the largest oil palm plantation companies in Asia, and Apical Group, a leading global vegetable oils processor, have jointly announced that an inaugural batch of 239 independent smallholders under the Smallholder Inclusion for Better Livelihood & Empowerment ("SMILE") programme in the Labuhan Batu Regency of North Sumatra, has achieved the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil ("RSPO") sustainability certification.

The smallholders were awarded the certification following an RSPO audit conducted from 18 to 21 April 2022, which assessed conditions including no deforestation, waste management and peat land protection. The certification is the latest addition to several milestones achieved under the SMILE programme since its launch in November 2020. Earlier milestones include the participation of 698 smallholders in the first phase of SMILE, as well as the signing of all Memorandum of Understandings between PT Indosawit Subur of Asian Agri and each of the cooperatives in North Sumatra, Riau, and Jambi.

SMILE is a joint programme with Asian Agri, Apical and Kao Corporation to provide independent smallholders with critical training on best sustainable farming practices, with the objective of increasing their incomes through enhanced productivity, and eventually paving the way for them to achieve RSPO certification. Post-certification, the smallholders will be eligible to receive certified palm oil premiums averaging 5% higher than non-certified palm oil. In addition, SMILE includes initiatives that promote greater smallholder inclusion and improved livelihoods through empowerment initiatives for communities, aligned with RSPO's objectives as well as the companies' commitment to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Asian Agri and Apical are members of the RGE group of companies founded by Sukanto Tanoto.

"We would like to congratulate all our independent smallholders for their efforts in implementing sustainable production. Independent smallholders are self-financed and often challenged by limited resources and expertise to produce palm oil sustainably, so SMILE was launched to reduce social and economic gaps that affect their livelihoods. Through providing relevant training and capacity building, we are heartened to have helped them achieve RSPO certification for the first phase of the audit, which will enable them to sell their produce at a premium, thereby increasing their income and raising their quality of life, " said Director of Sustainability at Apical, Bremen Yong.

"The palm oil industry is important for developing countries as it helps create job opportunities for the 2.6 million farmers who rely on it. Independent smallholders make up 40% of this industry and together with SMILE, we can continue to support and improve the well-being of the independent smallholders. We are proud of the smallholders who successfully completed the RSPO audit. To date, SMILE has supported close to 600 independent smallholders in working towards RSPO certification" said Director of Sustainability and Stakeholder Relations at Asian Agri, Bernard A. Riedo.

The remaining smallholders under SMILE Phase 1 will undergo the RSPO main audit in the third quarter of 2022 while the progress for these smallholders will be monitored continuously. Preparations are currently underway for the RSPO certification process for registered smallholders under Phase 2 of the SMILE programme.

On behalf of the Koperasi Konsumen Tebing Tinggi Pangkatan Sejahtera, as head of the cooperative, Khairul Anam, said, "The impact of this programme is great for us smallholders, as not only do we benefit in learning the right methods in agrofarming for the plantation, but we also receive additional equipment in addition to the premium provided. With the many benefits of the SMILE programme, we hope other smallholders will be keen to participate in this programme as well".

About Apical

Apical Group is a leading vegetable oil processor with an expanding global footprint. Our vertically integrated mid-stream refining and value-added downstream processing makes us an integral supplier that supports the food, feed and renewable fuel needs across industries.  To date, with integrated assets in strategic locations spanning Indonesia, China and Spain, Apical operates eight refineries, five oleochemical plants, four renewable fuel plants and three kernel crushing plants. Through joint ventures, Apical also has processing and distribution operations in Brazil, Dubai, India, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, USA and Vietnam. Apical's growth is built on the foundations of sustainability and transparency, and motivated by our strong belief that we can make a more meaningful impact even as we continue to advance our business and deliver innovative solutions to our customers.

For more information, please visit the Apical website:

About Asian Agri

Asian Agri is one of Indonesia's largest palm oil producers. Found in 1979, the company today manages 100,000 hectares of plantation land and employs over 25,000 people. A pioneer of the Indonesian government's Trans-National Government Migration (PIR-Trans) program, Asian Agri currently works with 30,000 Plasma Scheme smallholders in Riau and Jambi who operate 60,000 hectares of palm oil plantations, and independent smallholders who manage a total 41,000 hectares.

Implementing a strict "no burn" policy since 1994 and best practices in sustainable plantation management, Asian Agri has helped its smallholder partners improve productivity, yield and supply chain traceability, while assisting them obtain certifications. The company's mills are technologically advanced and energy selfsufficient, minimizing greenhouse gas emissions.

Asian Agri (PT Inti Indosawit Subur) is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) since 2006. More than 86% of its owned plantations in North Sumatra, Riau & Jambi provinces and 100% of Plasma Scheme smallholder plantations in Riau & Jambi provinces have been RSPO certified. All its owned plantations and those owned by scheme smallholders ISCC (International Sustainability & Carbon Certification) certified since 2014. In 2019, the company also achieved 100% ISPO (Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil) certification.

The company's operations are ISO 14001 certified, while its Learning Institute and nursery research center in Riau province, Indonesia are both ISO 9001 certified. Asian Agri's laboratory at the Center for Research and Development in Tebing Tinggi is accredited by the National Accreditation Committee under the ILAC Mutual Recognition Arrangement (ILAC MRA).

For more information, please visit the Asian Agri website:

About RGE

Headquartered in Singapore, RGE is a group of resource-based manufacturing companies with global operations. We produce sustainable natural fibres, edible oils, green packaging and clean natural gas used to create products that feed, clothe and energise the world. We help improve billions of peoples' lives through sustainable products they use every day. With more than US$25 billion in assets and 60,000 staff, we are creating a more recyclable, biodegradable and lower carbon future.

Committed to sustainable development, conservation and community development, we strive towards what is good for the community, good for the country, good for the climate, good for the customer, and good for the company.  With current operations spanning across Indonesia, China, Brazil, Spain and Canada, we continue to expand and engage new markets.