Engaging smallholder rubber producers in South Sumatra using the RSS framework


SNV is supporting the sustainable, deforestation free and resilient expansion of oil palm and rubber production by educating smallholder farmers on good management practices to increase their productivity and incomes, as a part of the Kelola-Sendang Partnership for Landscape Management Support project. SNV has successfully applied the Responsible Sourcing from Smallholders (RSS) approach as a framework to create smallholder engagement by and together with the Indonesian crumb rubber production company Kirana Megatara.

Seven villages in the Musi Banyuasin District, Mendis, Peninggalan, Lubuk Bintialo, Sako Suban, Berlian Jaya, Pangkalan Bulian and Muara Medak were selected for engagement with rubber smallholders, using the RSS approach. Initially, SNV took on the role of RSS Implementing Entity, compiling baseline maps and socio-economic information, conducting farm surveys to identify farmer risks and needs and conducting training on better management practices for smallholder rubber production.

Kirana’s interest in the project stemmed from questions that had it had received from their buyers about the company’s products’ traceability and potential for certification (Kirana recently also signed up to Global Platform for Sustainable Natural Rubber which aims to harmonise environmental and social standards across the natural rubber industry). In 2017, SNV signed a MoU with Kirana and with SNV’s support, the company committed to use the RSS framework to address the questions on sustainable smallholder supply.


Rahmat Untung, representative from Kirana Megatara at an RSS workshop


Addico Porsiana from SNV at the workshop

Kirana is unique amongst the local rubber companies by employing a team of field Sourcing Development Officers who are responsible and able to roll out smallholder engagement. To roll out the RSS approach in the company, SNV built these officers’s capacity to deliver training on better management practices. Project partner Proforest provided them with training on the RSS framework. Now Kirana has taken over the role of Implementing Entity for the next cycle of the RSS action plan, supporting producer cooperatives in the selected villages to address a range of social and environmental risks and needs. This includes awareness raising on avoiding starting plots on peat land , avoiding using fire and the mismanagement of agro-chemicals, as well as capacity building for producer cooperatives to increase their productivity and improve quality control, marketing and access to finance.

This has already helped streamline the flow of market information and supply of products from smallholders to the rubber factory. Smallholders are now tracking their yields and unit prices. Smallholder groups have started supplying some products directly to Kirana’s factory in Jambi. As the quality and value of their production increases, they are realising greater profits from their rubber plantations. Also, the smallholder farmers are increasing their understanding of the expectations of buyers with respect to environmental conservation in a landscape with high conservation values. Kirana in its turn is securing its raw material supply and improving its ability to demonstrate sustainable production right from the base of its supply chain to its own buyers.


A trader buying rubber from farmer by roadside


A smallholder model rubber plot in Mendis village

The RSS framework ensures that SNV’s excellent training materials and institutional knowledge are put to good use and their full value are realised , while providing a structure to companies like Kirana to engage with smallholders, prioritise capacity building efforts and control risks that their buyers are increasingly concerned with.