Plans to support smallholder rubber production in Indonesia

SHARP Regional Focal Point SNV is looking at how the Responsible Sourcing from Smallholders (RSS) framework might add value to their smallholder rubber programme recently launched in Jambi, Indonesia.

SNV are working on a Better Management Practice (BMP) model for smallholders producing natural rubber latex, drawing on existing work of Conservation International in North Sumatra. SNV plan to use their High Impact Training approach to deliver this model. This is an opportunity to test the RSS framework for smallholder rubber, as an extension of the field test already under way for palm oil in Jambi.

"This is an opportunity to test the RSS framework for smallholder rubber"

Discussions have been opened with the private-sector Rubber Producers Association and with local government in Jambi Province. SHARP and SNV are looking to better understand the downstream supply chain, which is likely to require building contacts with major players in the industry at national level, such as Kirana Megatara.

There is enthusiasm from many stakeholders for support to increase production efficiency and product quality. Smallholder rubber yields could be improved, prices are depressed and low returns are exacerbated by poor quality control with a consequent impact on livelihoods. The RSS framework can provide a structure to assess and address such needs, but also to identify core issues for responsible sourcing from smallholders.

These issues are not well understood. They might include legality of business operations and impacts on conservation values of conversion from low-intensity agro-forestry to intensive plantation production. The system and rigour of RSS could illuminate and inform the decisions of supply chain actors on engagement with and investment in their smallholder suppliers.

At the same time, the Proforest Southeast Asia regional office and SNV Indonesia are working on a concept for screening for environmental risks from forest conversion for expansion of rubber production. They also also considering how best to inform ongoing consultations on a proposed new international standard for sustainable natural rubber production under development by the International Rubber Study Group.

Image: Rubber tapping in Jambi, Indonesia. Credit: Tri Saputro for CIFOR