Bunge and Musim Mas Group announced a collaboration to promote the use of sustainable practices among smallholder farmers in Sambas, West Kalimantan, Indonesia.
The collaboration, co-funded by Bunge and Musim Mas through 2025, aims to train more than 1,000 independent smallholders in sustainable production of palm oil.
The partnership aligns with the Agriculture Sector Roadmap to 1.5 degrees convened by the Tropical Forest Alliance, designed to halt commodity-linked deforestation in line with the 1.5 degrees pathway while enhancing the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and supporting the sector’s transformation toward forest-positive land-use management.
“Bunge strives to be the preferred sustainable solutions partner for producers and customers,” said Ben Vreeburg, Bunge Senior Director of Sustainability. “We believe that together with our customers, we can build sustainable supply chains by sharing our know-how and experiences to support the smallholder farmers, promoting the productivity, profitability, and sustainability of their business. By adopting sustainable farming practices, smallholders can increase their yields and reduce their dependence on expanding into the forest areas.”
Bunge and Musim Mas believe broader sector collaboration is critical in addressing agriculture’s impact on climate and empowering smallholders to be part of the solution.
The Smallholders Hub: Supporting Smallholders to Halt Commodity-Linked Deforestation
Central to this partnership is the formation of Musim Mas’ sixth Train-the-Trainers Smallholders Hub.
Sambas is also the first smallholder hub on the island of Kalimantan for Musim Mas.
Musim Mas trains local government Village Extension Officers (VEOs) in these hubs. The VEOs, equipped with this knowledge, then share their expertise with smallholder farmers within their communities over time, resulting in enduring, long-term impacts.
The training covers good agricultural practices, business management, and NDPE (No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation) approaches to palm production. The program will help smallholders increase yields and earnings from their existing farmland, improve their understanding of the environmental impacts of their activities, and foster responsible practices. As most deforestation occurs outside corporate concession areas, such programs are vital.
Furthermore, the partnership facilitates market access and raises the awareness for certification programs such as Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) and Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). While West Kalimantan only contributes 5% to Musim Mas’ supply base, it is integral to the group’s overall sustainable sourcing strategy.
Bunge’s and Musim Mas’ Experiences with Independent Smallholders
Musim Mas builds on its experience in developing and implementing smallholder programs, having engaged over 42,000 independent growers since it started its programmes in 2015, including a notable partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group.
“Each region has producers of various sizes growing a whole range of commodities as well as companies that make intermediate and final goods, local governments and civil society,” said Olivier Tichit, Director of Sustainability, Musim Mas Group. “To make an enduring impact, we need to show our commitment and work together – the landscape-based approach. We look forward to working with Bunge in the Sambas region and making a meaningful contribution together.”
Bunge also brings valuable experience in supporting smallholders through initiatives like ILHAM (Inisiatif Lestari untuk Hasil Agrikultur Mampan), which focuses on improving farm management practices, implementing long-term fertilizer programs, and meeting sustainability requirements. Through this collaboration, Musim Mas hopes to leverage Bunge’s knowledge from their work in Malaysia and enhance and expand the program in Sambas.