BY DANIEL GUMM
THE Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), Africa Roadshow in Nigeria, a two-day event,was an awareness raising and capacity building programme which was implemented by an alliance of partners, viz: Solidaridad West Africa and Proforest Initiative (UK) and the support was provided by RSPO-Nigeria National Interpretation Initiative.
The event aimed at raising awareness and building capacity among key stakeholders on the best practices contained in the RSPO and to create an enabling environment for the uptake of the RSPO standard.
The major stakeholders in the palm oil supply chain were represented — this included growers/millers, processors, manufacturers/end-users, associations and NGOs/environmentalists. Also represented were the financial sector, development agencies, state governments, federal ministries and government parastatals, etc. Ms Audrey Versteengen and Mr. Isaac Abban-Mensan of Proforest and Dr. Harrie Hendricks of Solidaridad, who conducted the capacity building programme for the stakeholders.
The course outline for the first day included introduction of the course, general overview of RSPO and its certification scheme, overview of RSPO International Principles & Criteria (P&C) Standard as well as RSPO certification process. Smallholder Certification and National Interpretation of RSPO P & C were also presented and discussed.
On the second day participants were introduced to High Conservation Values (HCV) and its Identification and management, New Planting Procedures under the RSPO, Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC). Dialogue platform for challenges/opportunities for RSPO Uptake and Next Steps in promoting Sustainable Palm Oil in Nigeria was also taught on the second day of the Roadshow.
Welcoming the participants, Mr. Fatai Afolabl, Facilitator, RSPO Initiative in Nigeria, explained the reason for the gathering which he said was to create more awareness and build capacity among the stakeholders in the oil palm supply chain.
RSPO, he noted requires oil palm producing countries to develop their respective National Interpretation of the RSPO Principles and Criteria and if Nigeria would aspire to rise back to the No. 1 position, it has to develop its oil palm industry on sustainable and globally acceptable principles. He also said that players in the consumption of oil palm products across the globe have set 2015 as deadline for investors in the agro-sector to have their products certify.
The technical session kick-started the course outline, the objective of the roadshow and the procedures for achieving the outlined activities. It was also discussed at this session the expectations of both the participants and the tutors. The SWAPP Programme, Proforest and Solidaridad were also introduced.
General overview of RSPO and its certification scheme- At this session, a brief background of the importance of palm oil, the debate surrounding its production and the establishment of RSPO and key updates were discussed. An overview of how a certification scheme operates, with a particular focus on the RSPO certification system was also discussed.
Overview of RSPO International Principles & Criteria (P&C) Standard- The aim of this session was to make known to the participants the international RSPO 8 principles and 37 criteria.
Currently, RSPO is delivered via a set of eight principles and 37 criteria (thatis subject to reviewing every five years) as follows: