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Apical and Asian Agri Promote Independent Smallholder Certification at JaSPON x RSPO Conference

By October 12, 2023No Comments

11 October 2023, Tokyo – Apical, a leading vegetable oil processor, and Asian Agri, one of Indonesia’s largest palm oil producers, are pleased to announce their participation in the JaSPON x RSPO Conference and Members Engagement Forum in Japan, taking place from October 11-12, 2023.

Invited to the event organized by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), Apical and Asian Agri together with its partner KAO Corporation, a major Japanese global chemical and cosmetics company, presented a collaborative sustainability initiative called SMILE (SMallholder Inclusion for better Livelihood & Empowerment programme). This programme is specifically designed to support independent oil palm smallholders in Indonesia, address key challenges and promote sustainable practices within the industry.

In Indonesia, more than 40% out of 16.8 million hectares of oil palm plantations are smallholders[1], making them a core actor in the palm oil value chain. Speaking at the panel “Inclusive Growth: Smallholders in Japan’s Palm Oil Value Chain” to the Japan-based members of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and stakeholders, Ivan Novrizaldie, Head of Sustainability for Asian Agri explained, “Compared to scheme smallholders, independent smallholders are more vulnerable as they are not tied to any company or mill, and do not have access to financing and technical resources. And of the total number of smallholders certified, independent smallholders account for less than 20%[2]. We are therefore very excited to share how the palm oil industry can be more inclusive through our SMILE programme. With smallholders making up approximately 50% of our supply base, Asian Agri is well-positioned to contribute to the resilience and sustainability of the smallholders in the industry.”

Apical, Asian Agri, and KAO have come together to champion the SMILE programme. This initiative aims to empower oil palm smallholders by helping them raise their yields, obtain international certifications, and ultimately improve their livelihoods through the premiums from the sale of certified palm oil.

“In addition to limited resources, smallholders have lack of bargaining power, and are exposed to volatile market conditions. As members of the palm oil value chain, it is our collective responsibility to support and uplift the smallholders in Indonesia. Apical’s commitment to smallholders is long term: we aim to help 5,000 independent smallholders achieve RSPO certification by 2030.  The success of the SMILE programme is a testament to how collaboration can breed success and bring about transformative change,” said Bremen Yong, Director of Sustainability for Apical Group.

Head of Smallholder Cooperatives for Koperasi Konsumen Tebing Tinggi Pangkatan Sejahtera, Khairul Anam came all the way from his hometown in North Sumatra, Indonesia to Japan to attend the event. “I am honoured to represent our smallholder cooperative members to share about our sustainability certification journey in Japan. Our members are extremely proud to have achieved RSPO certification, a feat we never thought we would attain. Since participating in the SMILE programme, our yields increased by 60%, and we achieved this through sustainable practices. The results speak for themselves, and more independent smallholders now want to join us on this programme, with our Cooperative seeing an increase of 536 members. Most importantly, my community and family see happiness and hope for the future.”

The JaSPON x RSPO Conference and Members Engagement Forum aims to address critical issues of sustainable palm oil production by bringing together industry leaders, stakeholders, and industry experts to share best practices and foster collaboration.

About Apical Group

Apical 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, oleochemicals and renewable fuel needs across industries.

With integrated assets in strategic locations spanning Indonesia, China and Spain, Apical operates numerous refineries, oleochemical plants, renewable fuel plants and kernel crushing plants. Through joint ventures and strategic partnerships, Apical also has processing and distribution operations in Brazil, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Middle East, Africa, 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 grow our business and deliver innovative solutions to our customers.

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 tota of approximately 40,000 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 self-sufficient, minimizing greenhouse gas emissions.

Asian Agri (PT Inti Indosawit Subur) is a member of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) since 2006. 100% 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:

Corporate Communications

Apical Group
Tel.: +62 8111741888

Asian Agri
Tel.: +62 8111244413

[1] Data from Indonesia Oil Palm Statistics (BPS) 2021,