Many independent oil palm smallholders threaten to become alienated from formal markets because they lack the technical capacity and/or resources to comply with public and private sustainability standards.
Since resolving compliance barriers will require targeted interventions, it is becoming increasingly important to better understand the types of barriers faced by different types of smallholders.
This brief presents preliminary findings of research on sustainability, legality and productivity challenges arising from independent smallholder oil palm expansion in Riau, Central Kalimantan and West Kalimantan.
Research demonstrates how frontier expansion is often driven by larger out-of-province and absentee farmers that engage in oil palm for investment purposes rather than by smaller farmers (e.g. less than 3 ha) dependent primarily on household labor.
Findings show how smallholder legality issues - faced especially by smallholders whose oil palm operations more closely resemble that of businesses - constitute the most significant compliance challenge.