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In Guatemala, partnering for a better tomorrow

A new partnership brings big potential to 100 small-scale palm farms 

April 15, 2019

Photo Above: Producers and partners on the ground in Guatemala working toward certification of their products.

Residents in the Ixcán and Quiche regions of Guatemala depend on agriculture to secure better livelihoods for their families. In the past, many of these farmers tried to make a living raising cattle, but they turned to palm oil to diversify their crops and increase their incomes.

Now, through a new program by Cargill, palm oil producer Palmas del Ixcán and civil society organization Solidaridad, more than 100 small-scale farmers in the region have the right tools and information to prosper while producing a sustainable supply of palm oil.

Hugo Walter Cruz is one of these farmers. Growing up, he was the oldest of seven brothers and sisters. Like many others, he was forced from his home due to internal conflicts in the country, but he returned to the town of Chisec where he now lives with his family. He started his oil palm farm eight years ago, and life has been steadily improving since. He’s more financially stable and better able to provide for his family.

“I can give my family the opportunities they deserve,” he said. “Two of my children have graduated from college and my youngest is working on the farm alongside me so that he can one day take over.”

Raising prosperity from the ground up

The new partnership among Cargill, Palmas del Ixcán and Solidaridad will work with smallholder farmers like Hugo to help them achieve certification from the Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and create an RSPO-segregated supply chain along the way. The project will also encompass improvements to infrastructure, training in good practices for productivity, and incorporation of environmental and social practices, including a new mobile app for the farmers to help them track progress in developing best practices. Plus, it will provide know-how to the farmers on financial management and entrepreneurship.

“We’re committed to helping palm farmers increase production in the most sustainable and socially responsible manner,” said Manuel Carranque, a senior trading manager for Cargill. “In addition to the economic benefits, farmers will have access to tools and knowledge, which we hope has long-term implications.”

Through this new alliance, farmers like Hugo will have the opportunity to continue improving their prosperity while also serving as a model for the entire region. From the ground up, the project will show how sustainable palm oil can be good for the planet and also help build resilience in communities like Hugo’s.


Progress toward sustainable palm

Palm oil plays a critical role in the livelihoods of millions and is a key ingredient in many foods and cuisines. Demand for edible oils will continue to grow as the world population is predicted to surpass 10 billion by 2050. Palm oil is the most viable option to meet this demand. It is the highest yielding edible oil crop, using less land, energy, fertilizer and pesticides than other vegetable oils for every ton produced. Our Policy on Sustainable Palm Oil (Palm Policy) allows for agricultural development that is sustainable and meets growing demand.

View our recently updated Sustainable Palm Oil Policy to learn more about our commitment to producing and sourcing palm oil in a sustainable and socially responsible manner.