Wild Asia

Wild Asia supports the transformation towards the 100% sustainable palm oil supply chain in Europe by 2020 through introducing step-by-step initiatives to reach the 100% sustainable palm oil in Europe. We emphasize alternatives to conventional oil palm cultivation that will help farmers to make more money, and enhance the local biodiversity while preserving the forest. In which, indirectly will ultimately reduce pressure on natural areas, enhance local biodiversity through the reduction of chemical inputs and promote more diversity on and between farms.

Creating Production

We deliver a strategy that brings about small producer inclusivity in the global supply chains to increase the livelihood of small producers while increasing the local biodiversity. All small producers in the programme are verified through sustainable certification standards. They are provided with regular educational activities and progress towards meeting the national Malaysia Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) and then, the global Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) standard. This inclusion programme is called the Wild Asia Group Scheme (WAGS); delivered on-the-ground, through practical demonstrations and direct interventions – and the objective of this programme is to provide the technical and educational support for small producer certification. Our strategy is to influence a core group of small producers (center of influence) in community groups, for example increase their profits per area, by adopting global standards to add value to their existing crop, reducing costs, and/or reducing the need for chemical inputs by adopting natural farming methods of land management, spanning across a number of oil palm supply chains, creating role models for others to follow (not only their peers, but also within the district, the state and ultimately at national level). By taking this bottom-up approach, and providing the technical framework and meeting global standards, the impact of the Project extends far beyond the local regions where we operate.

In tandem with the work with small producers, we also work with the landowners to identify and explore how to increase the potential for the protection of natural areas on private lands. This would effectively increase the area under natural vegetation within targeted regions. When applied to regions where there are High Conservation Values, it provides an alternative model for enhancing biodiversity, and increases the conservation viability of existing protected areas. This local to regional approach is a novelty and can be an important component for supporting sustainable landscape initiatives.

Linking Global Buyers to Producers

We create partnerships and opportunities for buyers of palm oil to have a deeper connection to palm oil producers and production regions through our Small Producer Inclusivity and Resilience Alliance (SPIRAL) initiative; partnerships for delivering certification and BIO farms to groups of independent producers and enhancing the biodiversity in regions we operate.

Since 2007, our WAGS initiative has been (and continues) to be supported by a number of global partnerships consisting of global palm oil buyers, national processors, and palm oil mills. This support has enabled RSPO and MSPO certification for many independent small producers.

Other than that, we also identify mills and dealers in the region to establish working partnerships that can recognise verified small producers in the supply chain before we connect it to our global partners. In this way, mills are able to increase the traceability of their raw material supply whether from direct sources or those that flow through dealers. Mills in turn are able to provide greater assurance to the local refineries that provide the raw materials for global palm users around the world.

Supply Chain

Our work in oil palm is a strategic decision. We wanted to influence landowners and we wanted to enhance biodiversity. RSPO provided us with a platform to engage with the landowners and started with the very largest ones; the corporate palm oil estates. This began with conducting technical assessments (biodiversity, social, HCVs) and eventually covering all the aspects required for RSPO. In the meantime, starting with our first glocal schemes for RSPO smallholder certification WAGS programme, we work closely with local partners (mills and dealers) to design programmes for their suppliers that are sustainable and lastly supporting small producers by connecting them to the global brands and international markets.

“Oil palm is the largest and most widely cultivated agricultural commodity in Malaysia and neighboring regions. We think being certified sustainable could be the way to motivate producers to transition and we think we can go further. Our work is laying the foundation for regenerative agriculture by working directly with small farmers to demonstrate there are alternatives to conventional oil palm cultivation. The upside is that farmers increase their farm profits and biodiversity thrives. We take a long view and work from the ground up. One farm block at a time.”
Dr. Reza Azmi, Executive Director of Wild Asia

We are proud of ....

Protecting Biodiversity
One of the biggest criticisms of the palm oil industry is the monoculture production method and the negative impacts it has on the environment are well-documented. At Wild Asia, we’ve been encouraging oil palm growers to adopt new methods which incorporate more of the Earth’s natural processes and cycles.
The key project that has really seen an increase in biodiversity on oil palm farms is our BIO Farm initiative. We have been working with a number of farmers, mostly smallholders; teaching them how to farm oil palm with other crops and without chemical pesticides and fertilisers. Many of these methods are not exactly new, often drawing on much older farming wisdom from a time before chemical pesticides and fertilisers became the norm. However, by teaching the farmers about the natural cycles involved, such as the symbiotic relationship between plants and soil microbes, they get to see just how damaging these chemicals can be.
We worked with a selection of farmers across 3 states (Sabah, Johor and Perak) in Malaysia, to set up demo farms to show the viability of our BIO Farm model. This included cover crops to act as nitrogen fixers for the soil as well as giving the farmers an extra side income. A major part of the BIO Farm ethos is the eradication of chemicals and replacing them with organic alternatives such BioJuice and compost tea. Forgoing the use of pesticides allowed the return of numerous classes of insects, many acting as pollinators or as predators of pests. Some of our farmers reported seeing animals and creatures on their farms that hadn’t been seen for decades or at any time before. One farmer in particular, mentioned seeing a snake on her farm for the first time. At first, she was concerned until we explained that the return of apex predators is a positive sign, a good indication that the indigenous food webs were returning to their natural state, proof that the land is once again healthy.
By having some of the farmers on the BIO Farm project agree to be group leaders and setting their farms up as a demo farm to prove that the concept works, we can convince more farmers in the area to sign up. To put it simply, farmers will trust other farmers, especially if they’re growing the same crops. This helps to spread the concept in the neighbouring area and helps to create clusters of BIO farms that merge into larger areas of sustainable farming as opposed to tiny islands of chemical-free oil palm production at the risk of chemical run-off from neighbouring growers.
Around 40% of Malaysia’s oil palm farmland is worked or owned by smallholders and SMEs, if we can prove to more of them that our sustainable methods work and are potentially more profitable then that will go a long way towards changing the mindset of farmers. Change it from trying to combat nature to working with it for a more sustainable, healthy, and valuable industry.

Creating Fair Economic Development
Here at Wild Asia, we take great pride in our work with smallholders, it makes up a very large percentage of what we do, and the key project is the WAGS programme. The Wild Asia Group Scheme, which we prefer to call WAGS, is a programme we developed to help smallholders gain access to international markets and increase their earnings in the process.
The key to accessing the international market for palm oil is the certification, large international buyers under pressure from consumers and lobbyists have started to demand that their palm oil supplies are from certified sustainable growers, the most common international certification being that of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil, otherwise known as RSPO Certification. While necessary for many suppliers, very few smallholders have the resources to achieve this. The costs alone can be a barrier to smallholders, many of whom are at the mercy of the fluctuations in the price of palm oil.
We set out to help them by gathering them together and helping them get certified as groups, thus enabling them to share the costs amongst each other and making it much more accessible and affordable.
In addition to aiding the farmers with their RSPO certification, we also have WAGS Credits, which allow us to sell to buyers and share the additional income with smallholders, this has a two-fold benefit; one, the buyers are secure in the knowledge that they’re buying palm oil from sustainable sources and are not contributing to deforestation, the degradation of peatland, or exploitation of workers. For the growers, they get certified, and this can help boost their incomes significantly via our annual WAGS Credits payouts.
As we train the farmers we develop ever closer bonds with them, we get to know them and often their families too. This means we can see a real difference in their lives as they can afford to do things they may not have been able to do before, such as develop some savings, expand their farms and more importantly take away some of the uncertainty brought about by the ups and downs of the palm oil markets.

Supporting Smallholder Farmers
While Wild Asia is focused on the palm oil industry as a whole, the core of our work is with the small producers. Approximately 40% of all the oil palm farmland in Malaysia is worked by smallholders but very few of them have RSPO certification. Part of the reason for this is that many smallholders lack the necessary resources, and this is part of how we help them.
Through the Wild Asia Group Scheme or WAGS, as we prefer to call it, we pull groups of the farmers together and help them achieve certification as a group. This helps to spread the cost, making it more affordable as well as helping them get to know each other and developing a WAGS community. The community aspect enables farmers to share knowledge as well as ask each other questions and compare notes and progress. We help to train them on how to manage their farms in a sustainable way with the goal of minimising the negative impact on the environment, this includes guidance on various metrics to track the progress of their farm’s development alongside alternatives to chemical pesticides and fertilisers which are not only harmful to their natural surroundings but also the farmers themselves.
WAGS helps to reward small producers for using sustainable and environmentally friendly methods in the shape of an annual bonus derived from sales of WAGS Credits. Money from this also goes to funding projects on the ground and keeping our local representatives in place, not only do they offer technical support but also many are from those communities themselves and frequently develop close working relationships with the farmers and their families.
We have also developed the SPIRAL mechanism, short for Small Producer Inclusivity and Resilience Alliance. This allows global brands and their major palm oil suppliers to work with WAGS, allowing them to connect to a network of mills that directly support small producers’ incredible and transparent schemes. It helps to connect everything from farmer to consumer offering a previously unimagined level of traceability for the product.

Our biggest struggle

The biggest struggle in moving to sustainable palm oil is the hesitation from the smallholders and small farmers to adopt the process, cost, and procedure in doing it. Some may find it a hassle to comply with all the requirements that are needed. For example, it is still hard to change the mindset of the farmer into accepting these BIO Methods which closely follow Regenerative Agriculture practices. These methods initially are labour intensive and as labour availability and cost has always been an issue with farmers it will take quite a bit of convincing to get them to agree unless certain incentives to support these changes are in place.

Our next activity

The activity that we find can improve the palm oil yield is executing Bio farms and using fewer chemicals toward the palm trees. As we can see from the bio farm demo, the quality of the palm oil itself becomes higher when not using chemical fertilizer as the main fruit booster. Bioorganic methods help to produce bigger, heavier, and greener palm fruits. This will directly increase the quantity and the quality of palm oil and will help to increase the income of the involved farmers.

This is where the BIO Intervention program comes, where we will teach the farmers involved in Demo Farms with Cut & Drop practices, Fruit Enzymes application, EFB placement and other mills/households waste. In Stage 2 of intervention, we will move into the introduction of Fish Fertilizers and Biochar together with Aerated Compost Teas as inoculants while continuing the Stage 1 interventions and Monitoring of the farms. Apart from that, we would like to organize the palm oil planting workshop for our members and to share the knowledge and experience to enhance more of the palm oil production.

Our UN Sustainable Development Goals

My organisation is most concerned with the following 7 UN SDGs:

  • Goal 1: No poverty
  • Goal 2: Zero hunger
  • Goal 3: Good health and well-being
  • Goal 5: Gender Equality
  • Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
  • Goal 13: Climate Action
  • Goal 15: Life on Land

Join us!

Sign up, switch to sustainable palm oil and join us in showing the positive impact on the ground and making sustainable palm oil a reality!

Are you committed? Join the Sustainable Palm Oil Choice.

join us