CMO pioneers FSC certification around the world

CMO International, a diverse forestry company founded in South Africa, is making waves internationally by successfully achieving FSC chain of custody certification for 56 smallholder rubber tree farmers in the Sabah district of Malaysia. This is the first time that smallholder rubber farmers in Malaysia have achieved FSC certification which ensures their products comply with the European Union Deforestation-free regulations as well as other similar policies and market requirements around the world.

The successful outcome of this project was made possible with extensive collaboration between FSC Malaysia’s sustainable natural rubber project, CMO International, Control Union (M) Sdn Bhd and WWF-Malaysia.

“I am happy and grateful to be part of this project and I have learned about the importance and benefits of getting certified. I hope the rubber industry is sustainable for our future generation,” said Sylvester Dani, one of the smallholders from Tuaran in the FSC group scheme.

Sabdil Bin Tanjong, the General Manager of Sabah Rubber Industry Board said: “We are in the process of obtaining FSC COC certification for two of our rubber factories, the Beaufort Latex factory and Tenom Standard Malaysia Rubber (SMR) Factory. Our aim is to produce and export FSC-certified SMR and Latex Concentrate to the international market.”

A scale-up plan is embedded in the project, where progressively more smallholders are onboarded into the FSC group scheme, held by CMO Malaysia Sdn Bhd FSC-C195423. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the FSC group scheme is expected to cover over 7,000 hectares of FSC-certified rubber plantation by the second quarter of 2024.

The CMO International team played an instrumental role in training the smallholder farmers, and ensuring they understand and conform with FSC standards. As the entity holding the FSC certificate for this group scheme, CMO uses its software (‘Empower’) to map each member on the ground, compile the necessary management documents, conduct internal audits and monitor performance of the group members, in line with the requirements of the FSC standards.

Commented Michal Brink, CMO International Managing Director: “CMO is very proud to be able to bring this group of rubber smallholders in Tuaran, Sabah, to FSC certification. The smallholders have been trained and put in a lot of effort to comply with FSC requirements in their daily routine.”

This is the start of a journey to propel Malaysia – the seventh biggest natural rubber producer in the world - as one of the major suppliers of sustainably-produced FSC-certified rubber in the Asia-Pacific region.

In addition to their work in the Asia-Pacific region, CMO has pioneered the certification of charcoal producers in Namibia, as well as medium and small-scale tree farmers in South Africa through their innovative FSC group schemes. They have also certified communities in the Eastern Cape that are clearing alien wattle jungles and using the cleared timber to produce charcoal for local and international markets.