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Myth/Fact

Indonesian small farmers are in conflict with large companies

Indonesia is committed to full land tenure and rights for small farmers. This is an ongoing process. Indonesia’s history of colonialism and overlapping jurisdictions means there are often competing claims to the same land. This means that land is often in dispute.

Land disputes occur in Indonesia across all sectors – not just oil palm plantations.

Indonesia’s legal system has significant challenges dealing with these land disputes and regrettably some communities take disputes into their own hands. 

The four million smallholders in Indonesia are often working land with insecure land titles due to this colonial legacy. Smallholders and plantation owners may often clash with other farmers who believe they have a right to the same land.

These conflicts are not about palm oil, they are about property rights and stable land tenure, which is a challenge in the developing world.

This should not be an excuse for irresponsible scaremongering about palm oil.

Agricultural land covers around 31 per cent of Indonesia’s total land area. Indonesian palm oil covers 19.7 per cent of agricultural land in Indonesia. Oil palm plantations cover approximately 6 per cent of Indonesia’s total land area. Countries such as France and Germany have much higher agricultural land percentages. France’s agricultural area is around 30 million ha – around 46 per cent of total land area.

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