Smallholders play a critical role in the palm oil supply chain: 40% of the total worldwide palm oil production is ultimately provided by smallholders. In 2018, Bunge Loders Croklaam, IOI Group, Kerry Group and Fortuna Mill started Program ILHAM, a 3-year palm oil smallholder support program. This program supports the inclusion of smallholders in the supply chain and will boost small farmers’ (farm size between 0 to 500Ha) productivity by helping them implement sustainable agricultural practices.
The program entered its next phase as it embarked on the distribution of fertilizers to participating smallholders back in February 2020. Data from smallholders who have committed to the program was instrumental in determining the recommended fertilizer to all 117 participating smallholders situated in the north-eastern district of Sabah.
While adhering to local Covid-19 measures, several engagements were conducted at various smallholder locations to convey the details of the fertilizer subsidy program. A copy of the ILHAM standard operating procedure, as well as a standard scoop to use for applying fertilizer in the field were provided to all participants.
Program ILHAM has completed 3 rounds of fertilizer distribution – in February, May and August. More than 150mt of fertilizer has been distributed to farmers from 5 different communities. 85% of the distributed fertilizer went out to farmers who are supplying directly to Fortuna mill while the remainder was distributed via Fortuna’s collection centers at Nangoh and Paitan. To ensure that farmers were applying the fertilizer effectively, ground checks were conducted by the Bunge Loders Croklaan and the Fortuna team.
Moving forward, ILHAM will be conducting a soil and foliar resampling exercise to analyze the nutrient improvements in the farms that have completed 3 cycles of the ILHAM fertilizer program. Proper fertilizer input will aid yield increase, which in turn will encourage farmers to continue participating in the ILHAM program, improving their livelihood and income.