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February 2022, Singapore – Palm oil major, Musim Mas Group (Musim Mas or “the Group”), the top-ranked Swiss university Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zurich (ETH Zurich), and IPB University (or the Institut Pertanian Bogor) in Indonesia, are delighted to announce a research collaboration for five years. The collaboration aims to investigate the conditions under which supply chain sustainability initiatives can lead to reduced deforestation in the palm oil sector in Indonesia while safeguarding producers’ inclusion. In particular, the joint research will measure how Musim Mas’ Smallholder Programs, such as the Smallholders Hubs, can contribute to such sustainability goals.

Together with ETH Zurich, Musim Mas will collaborate to produce longitudinal research on oil palm smallholders and measure the impact of its work on smallholders. Starting in December 2021 in Sumatra, Indonesia, the study will be one of the first in the industry to see what it takes to balance environmental and economic considerations for supply chain initiatives to work.

Researchers from ETH Zurich’s Environmental Policy Lab (EPL) and IPB University will collect data based on a combination of farm-level producer surveys, semi-structured expert interviews with local experts along the value chain, and village-level focus group discussions. The project aims to sample up to 80 villages, and to survey up to 1,600 non-industrial palm oil producers over a 5-year time frame.

Two grants support the project – the European Research Council and the Swiss National Science Foundation. The first, “Assessing the effectiveness and equity of company forest policies,” was awarded to Prof. Dr. Rachael Garrett at ETH Zurich by the European Research Council. It pursues a coordinated pan-tropical data analysis across the world’s most significant tropical hotspots of commodity-driven deforestation. The second grant, “Effectiveness and equity of zero-deforestation commitment implementation in the palm oil sector,” awarded to EPL by the Swiss National Science Foundation, aims to develop an improved understanding of how company policy implementation mechanisms interact with public governance to influence conservation and livelihood results.

“Musim Mas is genuinely pleased to partner with ETH Zurich, one of the most respected universities in the world, and with IPB University, a leading agricultural university in Indonesia, to embark on a five-year longitudinal research to measure the impacts of our work with oil palm smallholders. Such a long-term commitment is needed to ensure an accurate assessment of the effectiveness of our strategy and programs, which are themselves based on a long-term, patient approach. Palm oil is here to stay, and so are small farmers. This rigorous, impartial review will allow us to further improve our programs, benefiting the farmers and their landscapes.” Olivier Tichit, Director of Sustainability, Musim Mas Group.

“This first of its kind partnership will provide ground breaking evidence on how sustainability initiatives influence oil palm producers’ livelihoods and land use. In particular, through our experimental design we will be able to identify which elements of Musim Mas’ No Peat, No Deforestation and No Exploitation commitments, and Smallholder Programs are most aligned with achieving benefits for both farmers and the environment, and conversely, where changes to the programs might be needed.”  Rachael Garrett, Chair of Environmental Policy, ETH Zurich.


About Musim Mas

Musim Mas is one of the world’s largest, integrated palm oil corporations with operations in every part of the supply chain across the Americas, Europe and Asia. Our global workforce pursues innovative and sustainable developments, ensuring product quality, safety and efficiency as the industry evolves.

As one of the most prominent players in the industry, it aspires to be a responsible leader in the evolution of the industry, driving a new era of sustainability with innovation. To that end, we take active steps to go beyond industry-recognized sustainability standards and will continue to step up in response to critical industry issues in our quest to contribute to a more sustainable industry and equitable world.

About Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (or ETH Zurich) is a public research university with a world-class reputation in academia and industry. In the 2021 edition of QS World University Rankings, ETH Zurich was ranked 6th in the world, placing it as the second-best European university after the University of Oxford.

ETH Zurich’s Environmental Policy Lab, chaired by Prof. Dr. Rachael Garrett, works on understanding the causes of global environmental change and identifying policies and practices that can contribute to reducing global environmental harms while promoting sustainable development. Our research is focused on land and food systems, with particular attention to supply chain sustainability policies and producers’ motivations and livelihood challenges. Find out more about Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich at this link.

About IPB University

IPB University, or Institut Pertanian Bogor, is a leading state-run agricultural university based in Bogor, and is one of the foremost institutions of higher education in Indonesia. It was established to be a center of excellence in agriculture and to promote scientific research benefiting the future of mankind. It is well-known not only for its remarkable and diverse range of academic subjects, but also for its research-led teaching and outstanding scientific environment.

IPB’s Department of Communication Science and Community Development Sciences, headed by Prof. Dr. Arya Hadi Dharmawan, applies insights from sociology, anthropology, communication, human ecology and community development to support community empowerment that promotes self-reliance and agricultural development. Prof. Dr. Dharmawan’s research focuses on the political ecology of tropical agriculture and rural livelihood resilience. Find out more about IPB University at this link.


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Phone: (65) 6576 6500
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