The Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification scheme serves as one of the platforms to address the concerns over issues related to environmental, social and economic impacts of the palm oil industry in Malaysia. Hence, MSPO certification has been mandatory for all palm oil operators, including smallholders, since 1 January 2020. In Malaysia, there are two types of smallholders, namely organised and independent. This study focussed on the independent smallholders. The purpose of the study is to investigate factors influencing the MSPO certification process during the preparation phase (MSPO pre-audit activities) for independent smallholders in Malaysia. The long duration of the MSPO certification process for independent smallholders caused difficulty for them to supply their fresh fruit bunches (FFB) to the palm oil mills. The results show several factors that influenced the certification process during the MSPO pre-audit activities, such as incomplete information and technical errors during application for MSPO certification, illiteracy rate and level of education of the smallholder, accessibility of the holding, and the lack of competent attending officers. The results obtained also show that the Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) advisory visit required a long time and was only completed within 37 days (29%), while issuance of the internal audit report took a much shorter time and could be completed within 4 days (3%). Based on this study, there appears to be a need to revise the existing guidelines in order to speed up the MSPO certification process for independent smallholders in Malaysia, and to support our commitment towards sustainability of the palm oil industry.
Received: 24 August 2020
Accepted: 23 February 2021
Available online: 31 March 2021
Page number: 13-20
Author: Philip Yap*; Amiratul Azzuwana Aniqah Abdul Rahman*; Mohamad Hafiz Abidin*; Mohd Rais Ismail* and Hafifi Hafiz Zulkifli**