Small-scale Forestry

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 379–396 | Cite as

Why do Farmers Prefer Oil Palm? Lessons Learnt from Bungo District, Indonesia

  • Laurène Feintrenie
  • Wan Kian Chong
  • Patrice Levang
Research Paper


Indonesia has been the world’s largest producer and exporter of palm oil since 2008. This paper discussed the livelihood impacts of oil palm development in Indonesia, based on lessons learnt from Bungo district, in the province of Jambi. The various community-company partnerships that structure the sector are reviewed and the difficulties raised by the joint ventures schemes are discussed. The merits and drawbacks of oil palm as a smallholder crop are then analysed, based on household socio-economic surveys conducted in 2007–2010. The main causes of conflicts between oil palm companies and communities are unclear land tenure, and a recurrent lack of leadership in smallholders’ cooperatives. Under fair partnerships between smallholders and companies, oil palm could become a smallholder friendly crop. The land-use profitability analysis demonstrates the high returns that can be generated by oil palm independent smallholdings, making it highly competitive with rubber, and much more profitable than rice production.


Nucleus Estates and Smallholders scheme Independent smallholders Rubber agroforest Livelihoods impact Sumatra 



This study is part of the project Integrating Livelihoods and Multiple Biodiversity Values in Landscape Mosaics, a joint research project of the Center for International Forestry Research and the World Agroforestry Centre, with support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. We would like to warmly thank Stephen Harrison and the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments; their help was greatly appreciated to improve the paper.


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Copyright information

© Steve Harrison, John Herbohn 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laurène Feintrenie
    • 1
    • 2
  • Wan Kian Chong
    • 3
  • Patrice Levang
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.IRD, UR 199MontpellierFrance
  2. 2.CIFORBogorIndonesia
  3. 3.IRC-SupagroMontpellierFrance

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