Through their work together, different projects to support smallholder livelihoods have been implemented in seven countries, including Colombia, Nigeria, Ghana and Indonesia. Besides establishing nurseries for new high-yield varieties of seedlings, women and young people are being trained in agribusiness and entrepreneurship.
Meanwhile, at the project in Colombia, it has taken five years to get to the point that Schneider says they have been “dreaming” about for a long time. They have successfully started linking the palm oil and palm kernel oil that is sourced from the smallholders there to one of their subcontractor sites in the US. “That’s our utmost goal,” she says. “That we are delivering our own supply.”
The project in Colombia is now moving to the next level. A mobile app called Farming Solution, which was developed by Solidaridad and supported by Henkel, offers the farmers taking part in the project tailored recommendations for more efficient and sustainable production. It also plays an important role in digitising the “last mile” in international supply chains, ensuring sustainable products from farm to shelf.
By being able to trace palm oil right back to the smallholders who picked the fruit to make it, the company has direct sight over how those workers are treated, and the practices used to grow the crop.
What other ways are there to ensure transparency within the supply chain? Katrin Feyerabend is the global head of sustainability purchasing for Henkel and says another mechanism is through its work with Action for Sustainable Derivatives (ASD), a cross-sector initiative that brings together companies in cosmetics, home and personal care, and oleochemical industries. “They really help us to map our supply chain to create transparency, which we ourselves as Henkel alone would not be in a position to do,” she says.
But there is still so much work to be done. Within the palm oil supply chain, ensuring more traceability is an important area of focus. By enhancing it, the visibility increases and with that labourer circumstances and livelihoods can be improved. Hopefully, through the cross-industry initiatives, partnerships, and, importantly, the will of dedicated employees, the farmers at the end of it all, are reached.
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