Breaching the black box: The role of ramps in Thai sustainable palm oil certification

E. Degli Innocenti*, P.J.M. Oosterveer, A.P.J. Mol

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Certification of sustainable palm oil as organised through the Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil is based on a simplified understanding of the global palm oil value chain – according to which instructions about production practices can be directly translated from the palm oil mill to the primary producer. The reality of palm oil provision is much more complex than this as is shown in the case of Thailand. On the basis of qualitative field study in Southern Thailand this paper clarifies that intermediary stages, such as the collection of oil palm fruit bunches at the ramp, play a key role in the organisation of the chain. The fluidity and complexity of the palm oil flow at the local level complicates the promotion of sustainability through certification. Global and national stakeholders, such as processing and trading firms, non-governmental organisations and national governments, should therefore open this black box of local dynamics to more effectively contribute to sustainability in palm oil supply.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-101
Number of pages17
JournalAsia Pacific Viewpoint
Issue number1
Early online date22 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • palm oil
  • ramps
  • Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil
  • sustainable value chains
  • Thailand


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