• Monday, April 22, 2024
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Group trains 654 oil palm producers on RSPO’s principles in South-South

Group trains 654 oil palm producers on RSPO’s principles in South-South

No fewer than 654 oil palm producers have benefitted from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) training in the South-South geopolitical zone and Abuja.

BusinessDay reports that the training was undertaken by Foremost Development Services Limited (FDS), a development and sustainability firm which serves as an intermediary organisation for the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil in the nation’s oil palm industry.

Fatai Afolabi, managing consultant and chief executive officer (FDS) disclosed this in Benin City at a one-day Community Outreach and Engagement Programme (COEP) for palm oil stakeholders from states such as Cross River, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, among others.

Afolabi said the community outreach programme was designed by RSPO to serve as an interface between the oil palm communities and oil palm companies and growers.

He explained that during the first engagement programme, which focused on RSPO principles and Criteria 2018, held between February 2023 and July 2023, a total of 407 stakeholders were trained.

He added that at the programme stakeholders were drawn from local communities including elders, women, youths, community-based organizations and oil palm smallholder farmers, government agencies and oil palm growers.

Others beneficiaries are NGOs into environmental and social advocacy, civil society organizations, media and financial institutions.

Afolabi, added that during the second engagement which was on Grievance and dispute resolution mechanism, held between September 2023 and February 2024, a total of 514 participants attended the programme, with 278 of them participating in both trainings.

He explained that the participants which are NGOs, media, public sector, oil palm growers and companies were drawn from the South-South States and Abuja.

According to him, COEP was designed by RSPO as an interface between the communities and oil palm stakeholders for the communities to know what RSPO stands for and the interest of RSPO in making sustainable oil palm the norm the world over

“Oil palm is produced mostly by smallholder farmers, but the landscape is changing the arrival of large-scale oil palm plantations in Nigeria through investments made by companies producing thousands of tons of crude palm oil across several thousands of hectares.

“The first module exposed the stakeholders to the principles and Criteria of RSPO while the just concluded second module focused on grievance and dispute resolution so as to pave the way for mutual understanding among all the stakeholders including the smallholder farmers, communities and owners of big plantations”, he said.

Earlier, Ahmed Olanigan, one of the facilitators, said the purpose of RSPO was to combat the negative impact of forest conversion, deforestation as well as conversion of HCV and biodiversity loss.

Olanigan, opined that the development of new plantations has resulted in land ownership conflicts and accusations of land grabbing, displaced communities and infraction of workers’ rights.

He added that RSPO had carried out baseline studies of communities within the geopolitical zone, prior to the community outreach and engagement programme.

“The development of new plantations has resulted in land ownership conflicts and accusations of land grab, displaced communities and infraction of workers’ rights and their working conditions,” Olanigan said.

On his part, Makinde Abiodun said that the RSPO’s grievance and dispute resolution mechanism is fair, transparent and impartial to duly handle and address the complaints emanating against RSPO members.

“The system ensures that any breaches of specific RSPO key documents, including statutes, by-laws, code of conduct, principles and criteria for sustainable palm oil production, and certification system, among others are fairly, impartially and transparently resolved,” he added.

He listed the RSPO dispute resolution system to include RSPO Complaints and Appeal Procedure (CAP), and RSPO Dispute Settlement Facility (DSF).

Abiodun added that disputes could arise at the time land is being acquired, just as disputes that have been initially resolved could also resurface again among others.

He said that mediation allows the disputing parties to amicably resolve their disputes.