PPMD is a voluntary scheme, which was started in 2000 to assist members of the local community with access to land to cultivate oil palm on it. Under this scheme, REA provides the cooperatives with oil palm seedlings, fertilisers and herbicides, as well as the technical assistance necessary for them to cultivate oil palm on their land. Cooperatives repay the cost of the inputs provided, interest free, through deductions made when they sell their FFB to REA’s mills. As at December 2014, 1,679 hectares of oil palm had been planted by the PPMD cooperatives.
Although the 15 PPMD cooperatives established to date were awarded RSPO certification in June 2011, the group recently made the difficult decision to remove these cooperatives from the scope of REA’s RSPO certification. The primary reason for this decision was the number and nature of non-compliances with the RSPO standard identified during internal audits of these cooperatives. Whilst REA remains determined to improve these farmers’ practices as far as possible and is investing in training, this will take time. In the meantime, it is important that these farmers understand that they do not yet meet the RSPO standard so that they have an incentive to participate in training sessions and improve their practices. Furthermore, the RSPO secretariat has agreed that these cooperatives should not have been categorised as scheme smallholders because REA does not have sufficient leverage over their practices. Therefore, they are considered eligible to obtain RSPO certification against the RSPO standard for independent smallholders, which is a simplified version of the full RSPO P&C with which companies and scheme smallholders must comply.