10 November 2020 – Peru’s Coalition for a Sustainable Production held an international dialogue on 4 November to exchange experiences related to “Opportunities for the competitiveness of sustainable palm in Peru, Colombia and Central America”. The objective of the dialogue was to share the progress of multi-stakeholder platforms towards deforestation-free and sustainable palm oil production.
The main palm producing countries of Latin America are orienting their production systems towards deforestation-free and sustainability through implementation agreements and good practices. The experiences of Colombia, Guatemala and Honduras were reviewed through the participation of the National Federation of Oil Palm Growers (Fedepalma), Colombia; Solidarity to comment on the experience in Honduras; and the Guild of Palm Growers of Guatemala (Grepalma).
A key aspect of the dialogue was to identify the positions of the Peruvian palm sector in this scenario. Therefore, the main Peruvian actors such as Grupo Palmas, Alicorp, Junpalma and the Regional Government of Ucayali (a region that is one of the main production areas in Peru) provided their points of view on how the Peruvian palm sector should respond to this market challenge.
“The vision that we want to build together is the vision of Peruvian tropical agriculture, a vision that the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of the Environment and the Ministry of Production have already been working on, but it is important to incorporate, and work hand in hand with the governments, the Amazonian sub-nationals who are the ones who manage the territory," said Fabiola Muñoz, Coordinator of the Peru Coalition for Sustainable Production.
According to the presentation by Sandra Doig, Sustainability Manager of Grupo Palma, a leading company in the production of palm oil in Peru, the market is trending towards more fats and the demand for oil grows with the growth of the economy and the middle class. Faced with this scenario, challenges emerge on how to meet this demand, without putting pressure on forests.
"A company like Grupo Palmas, which has 26,000 hectares of palm oil consolidated in two plantations, could make the decision not to grow any more, to not be subjected to any risk of deforestation and operate at maximum productivity." However, Doig explains that “this does not add value to the Amazon. "That is to put aside a reality where there are poor producers, that there are producers who plant palm with low or high productivity and that there is permanent deforestation that subjects them to poverty."
In this sense, the business strategy that the company has been implementing is to increase palm production with small producers, seeking to ensure that these suppliers do not deforest, providing technical assistance so that they can comply with the same sustainability standards that Grupo Palmas follows.
On Alicorp's side, Magdalena Morales, Vice President of Corporate Affairs, explained that Alicorp has been working with small farmers for many years, with a clear commitment to the country. Under the motto "Feeding a better tomorrow", the business strategy has a very solid commitment to sustainability and under this approach it is sought to promote a sustainable oil palm in the supply chain. Along these lines, the company launched the "Sustainable Palm Leaders" program, an initiative that seeks to include palm suppliers in sustainable practices.
"We believe that this is a joint effort" explains Morales "In our case we have been working hand in hand with our suppliers, so that they identify sustainability gaps, and with that they can move forward, with plans, to close them. We have launched an inclusive program for the agricultural leaders of the extractors and producers to develop these capacities together with (the organization) Solidaridad and Nest.”
Peru’s Coalition for Sustainable Production has been organizing this type of dialogue where it brings together companies, civil society organizations, and government entities to facilitate and accompany them to respond to the sustainability demands of the market, generating multi-stakeholder alliances towards sustainable land management.
Junpalma President, Nestor Sanchez, representing the palm production bases, indicated that if the producers do not know what sustainability is, it will be difficult to work with them. Hence, the importance of technical assistance and support for public policies.
Finally, Vicente Nuñez, Manager of Economic Development of the Regional Government of Ucayali, reminded participants of the social conditions in which the palm oil production was established in Peru, highlighting that producers who were previously cultivating cacao, migrated to the palm as an alternative crop. In that sense, he referred to the need for small producers to access financing and the support that the regional government has been giving for responsible palm production.
This dialogue event was organized by the Palma y Bosques working group of Peru’s Coalition for Sustainable Production – comprised of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Peruvian Society of Ecodesarrollo, Solidaridad, Earthworm Foundation, CIAT, MDA, EII, and with the support of the Tropical Forest Alliance.