Towards more sustainable and productive independent oil palm smallholders in Indonesia: Insights from the development of a smallholder typology

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The rapid expansion of Indonesia's independent smallholder oil palm sector is posing important productivity, sustainability and legality challenges. As a result, the need to better regulate independent oil palm smallholders is increasingly being acknowledged by Indonesian polity. Because the sub-sector is comprised of highly diverse stakeholder groups that face and pose distinct challenges, a targeted and stakeholder-disaggregated approach to sector regulation is required. Efforts to that effect have, however, been frustrated by an inadequate understanding of independent oil palm smallholder characteristics and associated challenges. This paper aims to contribute to this knowledge gap by developing a typology of independent oil palm smallholders. Through a hierarchical cluster analysis employing field data collected on 1840 smallholders in one of Sumatra's largest oil palm producing districts, Rokan Hulu, six sub-groups are identified, which are differentiated here on the basis social, economic, and geographic characteristics. Drawing on these results, the paper identifies a number of specific intervention priorities for each of the sub-groups

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