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The ‘Capitalist Squeeze’ and the Rise and Fall of Sumatra’s Krui Agroforests

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Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    The Institut Pertanian Bogor carried out a comparative survey of smallholder oil palm and damar agroforestry in Krui in 2002, the only direct comparison of these distinct agricultural systems I am aware of. The results support the view of forest-farmers I interviewed, that damar agroforests have a larger net economic value through time, as compared to oil palm monocultures. In addition, and perhaps most importantly for labor-time constrained smallholders, the economic return on smallholder labor invested in the agroforests was double that of oil palm plantations (Contreras-Hermosilla and Fay 2005).

  2. 2.

    As more Krui agroforesters and their children seek urban work and leave their damar agroforests unattended, damar resin theft has increased (Kusters et al. 2008). My informants reported damar theft was rare and not a big problem, but acknowledged thefts contribute to reduction in the perceived profitability of the long-term investment required for damar agroforestry.


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I am grateful for the forest-farmers, researchers, and activists that shared their knowledge and experiences with me during my time in Sumatra. Unfortunately, because of the dangers rural workers and environmentalists face in the countryside, they must remain anonymous. I thank the journal’s three referees for their constructive comments.

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Correspondence to David E. Gilbert.

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Grants from the National Science Foundation (#1524490) and Wenner-Gren Foundation (#8676) funded this research.

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The author declares no conflicts of interest.

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Gilbert, D.E. The ‘Capitalist Squeeze’ and the Rise and Fall of Sumatra’s Krui Agroforests. Hum Ecol 45, 711–717 (2017).

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  • Political economy of environmental change
  • Agroforestry
  • Deforestation
  • Oil palm
  • Indonesia