Case Study

How Integration of Ulula Tech Benefits Wild Asia Group Scheme Palm Oil Smallholders

Palm oil farmer holding palm oil plants


Wild Asia logo




Agriculture – Palm Oil

Industry Overview

Palm oil is one of the most controversial vegetable oils. The crop is linked to major deforestation and various human rights violation such as modern day slavery and child labor. Since the early 2000s, multiple organizations within the industry group banded collectively to create more sustainable and ethical palm oil. One of the initiatives introduced is linked to the objective of empowering smallholders to prevent monopoly, poverty reduction and healthier management of environmental impacts.

In Malaysia and Indonesia, which are the two largest producing countries of palm oil, smallholdings represent approximately 40% of total area for oil palm production. In Malaysia, smallholdings consist of smallholder farmers who own 100 acres of land or less (approx. 40.46 ha).

Ulula’s partner for this program, Wild Asia, pioneered a scheme for small palm oil producers (consisting of the smallholders and small growers who own between 41 ha to 500 ha of land) through a program called Wild Asia Group Scheme, also known as WAGS. WAGS is a management system that was created to address challenges faced by independent small producers to improve their farming practices and support them towards compliance with international standards by providing the necessary technical assistance, training and capacity building for these groups.

Palm oil farmers looking at device
Program introduction delivery.


Developing a one-stop information and reporting system for palm oil smallholders

The Ulula x Wild Asia pilot program was launched in the Kinabatangan region in Sabah, Malaysia. The integration of the OWL App into the WAGS system serves as a one-stop system where smallholders can upload their expenses, keep tabs of their sales and chemical use records, raise grievances and inform of wildlife sightings while simultaneously participating in surveys that are focused on their wellbeing, rights and health. The information, which is available in real-time, enables WAGS to proactively respond to any arising risks and issues on the ground, while also monitoring the transition from chemical to bio-based fertilizers. Data and input received through the surveys also allow WAGS to productively plan out engagement, training and capacity-building in accordance to the needs of the smallholders.


Leveraging technology to increase visibility into working conditions and support on-the-ground capacity building

In an effort to leverage technology to increase the visibility of working conditions in farms and provide support for on-the-ground capacity building, Wild Asia and Ulula joined forces to bring to the fore the voices of farmers and shine a light on their concerns raised. Both Wild Asia and Ulula co-designed the use of Ulula’s Worker Line (“OWL”) App to support smallholders’ record keeping, risk management, capacity-building and grievance management.

The smallholders are able to download the OWL app on Android, iOS and Huawei App Stores for free and fill up the surveys and records or lodge and discuss their grievances at their own time.

Representatives from Wild Asia are able to log into the Ulula main dashboard to monitor and check the records submitted by smallholders via the OWL app, which includes records of their expenses, sales and chemical use records, highlighted grievances and wildlife sightings.

Key features of the smallholders’ use of the OWL app:

Multilingual surveys

Allow workers to share feedback on their health, wellbeing and labor practices and share insight into the training materials and WAGS membership.
anonymous icon

Anonymous responses

Through encryption of survey data ensures privacy and protection of farmer’s identity and personal information for surveys.
mobile phone with messaging and alerts

Two-way communication

Allows workers and WAGS to anonymously connect, address grievances, and collaboratively resolve issues in a timely manner.

Hub for resources

Centralizes resources for capacity building, training materials, updates, and alerts that are provided by WAGS
analytics dashboard icon

Real-time data analytics dashboard

Enables WAGS to access live results and insights to promote transparency and shared learning.

Ulula Technology Used

This program is powered by the following Ulula technology:
Surveys icon


Expert-designed and field-tested questionnaires to measure sentiments across key indicators of well-being, working conditions, environmental impacts, health and safety and more.
Grievance Mechanism icon

Grievance Mechanism

Anonymous incident reporting tool to identify problems early and facilitate meaningful remediation through real-time case management.
Dashboard & Analytics icon


Get a macro view of risks by region, project and various demographic filters through dashboards that aggregate and visualize worker and community response data in real-time.
OWL App Icon


Centralized platform that supports continuous worker engagement through pulse surveys, information, training, feedback and grievance communication on iOS and Android smartphones.


The Ulula and WildAsia program is built up of 3 main phases:
PHASE 1: Co-Design of the Program
Ulula and Wild Asia worked together to create an ecosystem where farmers were able to digitize their farm management processes whilst also incorporating a digital grievance mechanism into WAGS. Record-keeping of sales of palm fruits, daily expenses and use of chemical fertilizers which were previously manually recorded via pen and paper can now be easily recorded via the OWL App. Smallholders are able to anonymously and safely raise grievances on the app.  Ulula and Wild Asia focused on making the digitization process accessible, easy to use and available 24 hours a day. The system is available in two languages — Bahasa Malaysia and English — to ensure workers are able to access the system in a language that they are comfortable with.

As the smallholders operate in areas close to wildlife habitats, therefore, the system has a direct reporting functionality for any form of wildlife sighting that allows for WAGS to be informed and escalate the news to the State or National Wildlife Department should there be immediate action or assistance that is needed from them.

The adoption of OWL app in the farmer’s operations serves as a model for how technology can be adopted to improve the practices of smallholders and improve the visibility of issues faced by the smallholders, paving the way to safely and effectively address grievances and concerns raised. The solution provides a framework that can be scaled and customized to ensure compatibility with smallholders within various agricultural sectors and scheme groups.

PHASE 2: Onboarding Wild Asia and co-boarding the smallholders onto the programs
Ulula and Wild Asia believe that open and effective communication and collaboration with smallholders is key to ensuring that the program is successful. Wild Asia has so far organized three (3) sessions with the smallholders. The onboarding included a sharing session on why the digitization of their process and their honest feedback is vital for the continuity and improvement of the smallholder group scheme. The participants were also given a demonstration of the tool and provided with in-person support.
PHASE 3: Wild Asia monitors the participation and responds to grievances
Following the launch, Wild Asia has continued to monitor the smallholders’ participation and responded to all grievances. The system provides for round-the-clock notification and secure communication lines, which allows smallholders to anonymously raise and discuss grievances with WAGS team members.

About Wild Asia

Wild Asia was first established in 2003 in Malaysia as a social enterprise. Wild Asia’s mission is to inspire change from within the private sector, through partnerships with businesses, to support initiatives that shape a better future for our environment, biodiversity and people. Wild Asia has been working over the last decade to understand the principles of sustainable production by educating producers and supporting their efforts towards RSPO certification. This has involved supporting some of the largest oil palm producers and agri-businesses to extend the area under RSPO certification. Through our work with small producers, we have gained the confidence and expertise to develop new models for oil palm that enhance biodiversity and are ultimately more profitable. It is on this experience that the current approach for improving livelihood, biodiversity and resilience has been built. Over the coming years, we see a pathway towards creating a unified programme, on-the-ground, to deliver sustainable production in palm oil that can reach a global scale.

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