Vegetable oil, especially palm oil, has been used increasingly for energy since many years. The Thai government has strongly supported this trend. But there was also criticism about the expansion of production areas. It was argued that the rapidly increasing production would lead to a destruction of the rainforests, the extinction of endangered species and the increase of food prices and bad working conditions.
Therefore, development of sustainability standards for bioenergy and the establishment of global certification systems play an important role. Initially, the Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) has been established to develop common standards. This forum has been launched by representatives of various stakeholders, e.g. producers, industry, NGOs as well as from the trade and finance sector.
On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), GIZ supported the Thai partners to seriously take ecological and socio-economic effects of palm oil cultivation into consideration.
The project aimed to intoduce appropriate sustainable standards for palm oil production in Thailand and to support the certification of smallholder producers and to monitor continously environmental and social impacts production of palm oil.
Four private mills and one co-operative participated in the project as pilot sites in order to achieve sustainable palm oil production. The project suppported around 500 smallholders in Krabi, Surattani, Trad, and Srakaew with a series of trainings. It developed training materials in a “Farmer Friendly Style”, which were widely accepted as the best and original of oil palm training materials documents to enhance productivity, quality and sustainability. During the project, the income of Thai palm oil industry increased by up to 40 billion baht due to the reduction of the production costs. Farmers are also benefit from receiving a price premium for their certified products.
The participating mills, which provided considerable support to the farmers also financially benefited by increased Oil Extraction Rate (OER). There is huge potential for further up-scaling in the Thai Oil Palm Industry, as ‘only’ 412 smallholders have been certified, managing overall 2.767 hectare of plantation and producing about 52.000t of Fresh Fruit Bunches (FFB) per year.
Final Report: Impact Study of the Project on Sustainable Palm Oil Production for Bio-energy in Thailand