Smallholder farmers manage over 40 percent of all palm oil estates in Indonesia. The average yield for an independent smallholder is between two and three tons of fruit per hectare of planted oil palm per year. This is less than half of that achieved by big commercial plantations.
This means that there is considerable scope to improve the yields or productivity of independent smallholders. By doing so, the available supply of palm oil will increase, smallholders will enjoy greater revenues from the same area of land, and we may potentially help to reduce the need to open more agricultural land. How to achieve this boost is a question that the industry has been grappling with.
GAR/PT SMART believes part of the solution is to foster partnerships between major growers and buyers of palm oil, and networks of smallholders. GAR’s/PT SMART’s Smallholder Development Programme which focuses on building links with farmer cooperatives is one such initiative. In East Kalimantan, GAR/PT SMART is currently working with 3,500 smallholders managing more than 7,000 hectares of planted oil palm.
The programme offers support in the form of credit schemes to get high-quality seeds, fertiliser and infrastructure support at the palm oil estates, training and help in getting Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil System (ISPO) certification and legal land tenure.