On 2 June 2022, the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) and Earthworm Foundation signed an agreement formalising a partnership to improve the lives of farmers across Malaysia.
The MOA (Memorandum of Agreement) was presided over and signed by YBhg. Datuk Dr. Ahmad Parveez Hj. Ghulam, Director General of MPOB, and Karl Yen Quek, Country Head of Earthworm in Malaysia.
The main goal is to help smallholder farmers improve environmental and agricultural practices, as well as live in harmony with wildlife; in line with national certification scheme – MSPO (Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil) – as well as other sustainability requirements.
The collaboration will also help farmers diversify their income and increase average household income, said YBhg. Datuk Dr. Ahmad Parveez Hj. Ghulam.
“This is one of MPOB's efforts to produce farmers who are more visionary and competitive,” he said.
Concretely, the partnership encompasses four objectives:
- Achieve traceability to smallholders’ farms, in line with MSPO and international NDPE (No Deforestation, Peat and Exploitation) requirements;
- Empower smallholder farmers to manage high biodiversity areas and live harmoniously with wildlife;
- Strengthen farmers’ knowledge and access to income diversification opportunities to improve average household income; and
- Help farmers implement good agricultural practices and meet sustainability requirements, in line with MSPO standards.
As of 30 April 2022, MPOB has certified 167,549 farmers throughout Malaysia under the MSPO scheme. This accounts for 76.62 percent of total farmers. In Sabah, it has certified 25,691, or 81.31 percent, of farmers.
“This is the start of an important collaboration, which I hope will boost cooperation and result in a more sustainable palm oil industry, in line with global needs,” said YBhg. Datuk Dr. Ahmad Parveez Hj. Ghulam.
“We believe that farmers play an important role in the palm oil value chain and the socio-economic wellbeing of our country. Yet, they can also be exposed to external elements that can affect their resilience,” said Karl Yen Quek, Country Head for Earthworm Foundation in Malaysia.
To date, the Earthworm field team has reached out to close to 1,300 farmers from Beluran, Telupid, Kinabatangan, Tongod and Lahad Datu districts; with the aim of improving their resilience against market and climate fluctuations, as well as improving sustainability practices and co-existence with wildlife.
"Through the strengthening of this relationship with MPOB, we aim to expand our landscape programmes in Malaysia to impact more farmers,” Quek said.
About 115 people attended the signing ceremony, which took place at the Sabah State Library Hall in Kinabatangan. Attendees included local farmers and representatives from MPOB and Earthworm Foundation.
The event started out with a field visit to a farm to see the ways farmers in Earthworm’s landscape in Sabah are diversifying their income and improving farming practices.
Farmer Burham Bin Bachok lead an entourage through his oil palm farm; where he has started rearing goats, chickens and swiftlets, as well as using natural fertiliser and EM (Effective Micro-organisms).
This led to the ceremony at the Sabah State Library Hall, where along with the MOA signing, MPOB officials gave out MSPO certificates to farmers. They also talked about the MSPO certification process, which Earthworm's field team is supporting. The event ended with farmer Zainudy Jasman sharing his experiences under Earthworm's landscape programme in Sabah.
“Now, the journey continues to leverage this platform and scale our impact in the SCFS (Southern Central Forest Spine) and Sabah landscapes in Malaysia,” said Prasad Vasudevon, Earthworm Foundation’s landscape lead in Sabah.