On February 23 the SustainPalm programme was launched in Jakarta by Dutch Ambassador Lambert Grijns and the Deputy Minister on Food and Agribusiness Dr. Musdhalifah Machmud. The 3-year programme aims to improve palm oil sustainability practices which will lead to land sparing, reduced GHG emissions, inclusion of smallholders and increasing biodiversity.
VHL is one of the four universities implementing the SustainPalm programme (together with Wageningen University & Research, IPB University and Universitas Lambung Mangkurat). The VHL input in the programme will be coordinated by the research group Oil Palm & Tropical Forests and implemented in close collaboration with staff and students from ARC, BNB and IDM. Ghislaine Bongers (BNB) who joined the mission was enthusiastic to see so many different Indonesian partners involved in the Living lab approach: ”I am really looking forward involving students in action research on livelihoods and biodiversity, great that we can combine research and education in such a exciting programme”.
The lauching event was preceded by a 2 day field visit to Sumatra to see various sustainability practices in both large scale and smallholder plantations. We visited the Beringin Jaya smallholders' cooperative being the first RSPO certified oil palm plantation on peatland. Furthermore we visited Mengkapan Village, where smallholders are intercropping oil palm with pineapple and where a women group earns additional income by producing and selling pineapple’s derivative products.
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