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Sabah towards Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RPSO)


Sabah is heavily dependent on palm oil as it plays a decisive role in the state’s economic growth. According to Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB), in 2009, Sabah has the largest area under oil palm cultivation than any other state - at 1.36 million hectares out of the national total of 4.69 million hectares. Due to the greater advantage, the State Government mandated that all palm oil produced in Sabah will be 100% RSPO certified palm oil commodity that is environmentally sustainable by the year 2025. There are a few criteria that need to be fulfilled - such as having the best management practice, resolving land conflicts and land tenure, ensuring new oil palm plantings are not negatively impacting the wildlife and forest reserve, surrounding environment and also communities. To achieve this requirement, smallholders are obligated to improve the quality of their land cultivation whilst RSPO recognizes the importance by supporting smallholder inclusion into RSPO’s required standard and system.

This is where Forever Sabah (FS) fits into the picture, as our mission in this is to facilitate and helping on various aspects of the RSPO commitment under Certification on Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) as a medium in bridging communities, industry and government.

As for this stage, FS is currently conducting household interviews with smallholders of TTBK (Telupid, Tongod, Beluran and Kinabatangan) area. Before entering any villages for CSPO interview, our team is required to ask for permission of consent (Sumuku) from the District Officer, District Forest Officer (DFO) and Village Leader (Ketua Kampung) to conduct the study in each village.


Team (Chris, Maslianah and Zulfikar) meeting the Head of Village of Kampung Linayukan, Telupid for consent to conduct interviews in the village.

The household interview consists of 30 pages of questions that cover background information on each smallholder and has been used by the team since 2016. The interviews allow us to understand many aspects of palm oil in each village, also to identify issues in communities by inquiring of their household condition; land status or conflicts; the use of fertilisers/pesticides; health; use of forest for community, smallholdings and government schemes; use of forests for hunting; rattan, fish wildlife and human-wildlife conflicts; Tagal (traditional water catchment management) systems and customary practices, flooding and water quality in rivers; cultural and spiritual sites; as well as knowledge of RSPO and other traditional practises in the villages.


Team (Zulfikar) is explaining the purpose CSPO to one of the smallholder as our respondent in Kg. Bakong-Bakong, Beluran.

Aside from conducting questionnaire interviews with the smallholders, the CSPO team is assigned to collect GPS coordinates of houses and oil palm areas from each respondent – this is to identify the location of palm oil plantation in each village and the topographical arrangement of the land in TTBK area. In December, the team evolved a way of doing the data collection more quickly by dividing into two teams (the interviewer team and coordinates collection team) as each interview lasts between 3 to 5 hours.


With the completion of the field questionnaires, the work now enters a new phase focused on developing ways of solving the problems identified in the surveys – such as land titling, best management practices, the application of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) & High Conservation Value (HCV).

The first CSPO meeting of 2018 was held on January 10th to 12th for three days at PACOS Trust. It was facilitated by FS's Technical Coordinator for CSPO, Mr Linggit, and the purpose of the meeting was to construct their 6-month work schedule and activity planning before proceeding to the community meetings with the villagers to update them on the reporting and interviews that were conducted last year. During the meeting, the Field Coordinators were asked to bring up the issues and concerns that they faced throughout the months of work in the field, suggestions of solutions, work plan and post-mortem from their previous fieldwork experiences. The purpose of this is to prepare a project baseline for the field coordinators to better organize their work schedule in the field to avoid further delays in completing the deliverables.

The team then came up with a draft of the 6 months’ field coordinators’ workplan and Mr Linggit assigned the team into each area of TTBK according to their preferable district, and the team has since focused on their allocated districts since 22nd January 2018. The Technical Coordinator prepares another required round of Sumuku as permission to enter their village in order to set up Community Land Committee & Planning in TTBK area and the work still continues until today.


Mr. Linggit and CSPO team at PACOS meeting room for Field Coordinator workshop

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#Community #certifiedsustainablepalmoik #smallholders #smallfarmers #Indigenous #local #community #livelihoods #sustainableliving #sustainablepalmoil #sustainability #economicdevelopment #nativeland #Sabah #Borneo #CSPO #RSPO

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