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Smallholder Farmers Risk Being Forgotten in Sustainable Biofuels Race
by Maya Thatcher (Center for International Forestry Research) Smallholder farmers in developing countries risk being left behind in the push to produce sustainable biofuels, deterred by complex and expensive certification schemes, according to a recent CIFOR study.
With limited scope to meet the high financial, technological and capacity demands of more sustainable practices, the study argues that existing standards and certification schemes are heavily biased towards industrial-scale producers.
“It is imperative for proponents of sustainability standard and certification schemes … to ensure that no farmer is left behind in the quest towards sustainable biofuel production,” said Janice Lee, lead-author of the study No farmer left behind in sustainable biofuel production
Smallholder farmers make up a significant chunk of overall production, accounting for around 36% of palm oil in Indonesia alone. Despite their strong market presence, many are put off the certification process due to additional expenses for administration, training and third-party inspections, poor access to information and technical support, as well as a reluctance to break away from familiar norms.
In addition, certification requires farmers implement a system of documentation and record-keeping, which can be overwhelming and frustrating for farmers with lower educational backgrounds.
...Although Lee has not yet heard of any official schemes which help smallholders with costs and administration, some pilot projects in Ghana, Guatemala and Malaysia have begun to address these certification issues, she said.
“So far most of the schemes geared towards helping small farmers are a product of co-operation between non-governmental organisations such as the Producer Support Initiatives from Solidaridad and private companies who have joint-venture projects with small farmers. READ MORE Abstract