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New SALSA Platform to Promote Sustainability in Agri-Business Across SE Asia

Image Credit: Marina & Enrique

In a bid to boost sustainability in Indonesia’s agri-business sector, PT SMART Tbk (PT SMART) — a subsidiary of Golden Agri-Resources (GAR) — and the French Agricultural Research Center for International Development (CIRAD) have launched a new regional platform that will deliver research-based training and enhance sustainability standards in major commodity chains, including palm oil.

The platform was launched during a French state visit to Indonesia — the first since 1986. The visit has spurred $2.6 billion in pledged investments as France seeks to deepen ties with Southeast Asia’s largest economy.

The Sustainable Agricultural Landscapes in Southeast Asia platform (SALSA) is a public-private partnership that integrates multi-stakeholder teams into research, training and development projects to support the growth of sustainable supply chains and protect the biodiversity of Southeast Asia. Specifically, the platform aims to strengthen sustainability standards, share knowledge and innovation and increase the availability of plantation managers trained in sustainable practices and certification standards.  

“The CIRAD-PT SMART partnership dates back more than 20 years, training students, plantation professionals and researchers from around the globe, while benefitting the company, its suppliers and 50,000 smallholders through yield improvement and better agronomic practices; this R&D partnership has been so successful it was renewed for another 10 years in March 2016. As the world’s second largest vertically-integrated palm oil producer, we hope new learnings through the SALSA platform positively impact the industry as a whole in its journey towards sustainably produced palm oil,” said Daud Dharsono, President Director of PT SMART.

The agreement builds on the progress GAR has made in developing a sustainable, traceable supply chain. Currently, 60 percent of its palm oil supply is RSPO-certified and the company is on track to deliver 100 percent traceable and RSPO-certified palm oil by 2020. With its Forest Conservation Policy in 2011, GAR has eliminated deforestation from its palm oil production.

“Agri-business is a critical and growing part of the region’s economy and CIRAD is fully committed to working with our partners in the SALSA initiative to improve the sustainability of their supply chains. We believe the answers to ending deforestation and achieving certified, sustainable production lie in capacity-building and will continue to channel our resources and research and development efforts to these industries to attain this,” said Michel Eddi, CIRAD’s Managing Director-General.

France is one of Indonesia's most important trading partners in the European Union, with bilateral trade valued at more than $2.23 billion annually. President Hollande’s historic visit to Indonesia signals stronger bilateral ties between the two countries as well as France’s support of the certified, sustainable development of plantation industries in the region through supportive measures.

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