Skip to end of metadata
Go to start of metadata



 Conflict on Palm Plantation in Indonesia.

Author: mohsina Siddique: ID: 300264

Background information:

Palm oil is one of the world's most produced and consumed oils. It is mostly use in food and cosmetic industry. The low cost production process makes it popular. Palm oil is also a very stable oil and can be used as a source of bio-fuel. The global market of palm oil is dominated by Indonesia and Malaysia.

The worlds 85% to 90% palm oil are produced in these countries. The palm oil industry in Indonesia is quickly become the main forestry currency earner. Climate and soil of this country is very suitable for palm tree, so this is the most profitable sector of the country. The following table can give us an overall view about the production capacity and the export statistics:

Figure: Palm oil production and export statistics of Indonesia.

Most palm tree are planted in the island of Sumatra and Borneo. Around 11.9 million hectares are occupied by the palm plantation. Once most of the areas were filled by the rain forest, which are now occupied by palm trees. Now the deforestation is creating devastating effect on the environment.

 Generic information about the conflict and conflict type:

For the palm oil industry, the deforestation has reached an unprecedented scales. Millions of hectors of rainforests have already been cleared in the island of Sumatra and Kalimantan. Burning forest to the ground is the cheapest way of clearing land for lucrative palm oil plantation. It is occurring the destruction of wild life and biodiversity. Toxic smoke creates

health hazards and long drought caused the fires to spread quickly in the peat bogs. Deforestation makes Indonesia one of the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases.  

The demand for palm oil put the pressure on the land owner to sell their land in very cheap rate. Report shows that 80% logging are illegal and the government does not have any control over that. If they deny to do so, their land are become burned by anonymous person. In this situation the people of some region are raising their voices against the plantation and hindering the land taking processes.

 Resources involved:

The conflict was involved with the land owners and the local farmers who are against the plantation. Local Indonesian news is full of reports of protest against the palm oil companies. The protest is spreading all over the country. The protest was against some companies like Wilmer and SIMP. Sometimes the protest goes violently.

Evaluation of The Conflict

Main Issues and Description:

Illegal plantations all over the Sumatra island and forcefully taken the land form the local farmers. Peatland destruction, food area conversion and biodiversity loss are also the focusing issues. The company and government promised the farmer to compensate for cutting down the forest, but failed to keep that. The main slogan of the protest is to ‘stop intimidation and theft of the land’. Local papers claim that companies are the behind of forests fire so that people have to be compelled to leave their lands.

In 2015 firing, 19 people died and over 500,000 people were affected by respiratory infection. According to the government, 2.6 million hectares of Indonesian land burned between June and October 2015. Over 100,000 fire were made to prepare the land for palm plantation which create a havoc to the environment.

 Main stakeholders involved:


A Uniliver supplier palm oil company PT RKK was found guilty of arson in the province of Jumby. Other palm oil company as well are also facing protest from the local farmers.

 Analysis of the stakeholders values and interests:

The main focus of the big companies are to increase their land size over others. They manage the local authority to give the permission for illegal plantation. But now a days they are facing continuous protest fron different areas which make it difficult to invade the areas. They are now thinking about the alternative ways. They now negotiate with the land owners for giving the compensate over their land. But still lack of regulation is the main obstacle to implement the law and compelled them to compensate them properly.

 Evaluation of the intensity of the conflict.

Hundreds of farmers have claimed over 5,000 hectares of land in the village of Mekar in the subdistrict Wampu. ( Al Jazeera News). They have blocked officials of PT Langkat federation because the company used heavy machinery on to their palm oil plantation. Like these event they are facing continuous protest for their action. Sometimes they are violent. As a result they are losing their good will of the company and also facing the blame of human right violation. So International authority are also become concern about the issue.

  Evaluation of the possible causes of the conflict

Poor government management, Corruption between local authority and palm oil company, taking over the land without compensation, arson of the land, environmental hazard , deforestation all are the main reasons of the conflict.

  Main elements that may preclude

Lack of governance, poor government action and management on local land right conflict will preclude the conflict resolution. Moreover corruption of law enforcement agencies which help the responsible companies from escaping the judgement is another factor.

 Main elements that may encourage conflict escalation:

Increasing palm oil demand might lead to escalation of the conflict. Besides Corruption of local authority, giving more facilities to the companies, denying the rights of the farmers may indulge the violent action.


Keywords and identifiers of the conflict

Palm oil, Rainforest, Sumatra, PT RKK, forest fire.


Indonesia Investment (2019) Web link:

The Guardian( International Edition)  WEB link:

CIFOROccasional Paper No. 38 : Fires in Indonesia:Causes, Costs and Policy Implications. Web link :


Al Jzeera English (2018):