in: The Journal of Environment & Development 24 (3), 292-314
While smallholder certification in the palm oil sector is an important issue, there is still little research on its potentials as well as its pitfalls. This article aims to contribute to closing this gap by identifying the main barriers for the inclusion of smallholders into standards schemes and the adoption of sustainability standards by smallholders and compliance with their requirements, thereby contributing to the growing literature on the effectiveness of voluntary sustainability standards. On the basis of a smallholder survey and interviews conducted with a variety of different stakeholders during three months of field research, this article offers data on RSPO smallholder certification, focusing on antecedent variables as potential adoption determinants at three levels: smallholders, smallholder organization and the institutional context. The article underlines that smallholders lack both the information and the degree of organization that is needed for smallholder certification and that they require institutional support in order to become certified. The article also identifies the most important compliance challenges for smallholder, which concern land titles, seedlings, pesticide usage, fertilizing and documentation.