Swiddeners' perception on monoculture oil palm in east kalimanthan, indonesia

Daisuke Terauchi*, Makoto Inoue

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The objectives of this chapter are 1) describing swiddeners' perceptions on land-use decision-making and land-use strategies in Besiq Village, West Kutai District, where development of large oil palm plantations are planned, and 2) determining the state of oil palm cultivation in Paser District, where oil palm plantations were developed more than 20 years ago, then examining the problems of oil palm cultivation in the eyes of swiddeners. The people in Besiq Village evaluated land uses such as rattan, rubber, and oil palm cultivation based on three criteria: "return on labor," "flexibility of land and resource use," and "autonomy." They selected rubber cultivation as a source of regular cash income because of the high "return on labor," and also maintained rattan cultivation as a source of cash income for emergencies, and as material for baskets because of its high "flexibility of land and resource use." Villagers hesitated to introduce oil palm plantation development because of low "flexibility of land and resource use" and "autonomy," although they had expectations for a high "return on labor." Therefore villagers agreed to plantation development in the customary forest of the upper river area, but refused it in the vicinity of the village, where land is de facto owned by villagers. This suggests that the villagers adopted a "mosaic livelihood strategy," whereby they try to combine rattan cultivation and rubber cultivation in a complementary fashion, and accept the development of oil palm plantations partly in an effort to avoid social concerns. Based on the realities of oil palm cultivation in Paser District, the problems of oil palm plantations were examined in terms of the three criteria used by swiddeners. The return on labor of oil palm cultivation was high, but if land was not leveled and roads were not sufficient as in West Kutai District, the return on labor is considered to be almost the same as that of rattan cultivation, and less than that of rubber cultivation. Regarding flexibility of land and resource use, swiddeners practiced agroforestry based on oil palms with rubber, teak, fruit trees or medicinal plants, mushroom collection in oil palm plantations, and silvopasture. Our study found that these practices could improve the flexibility of land and resource use. It is also effective for villagers to determine land-use planning through a participatory approach which decides which areas will be conserved and which developed. There appeared to be no serious problem regarding local autonomy. Companies started paying heed to local people after democratization in 1998. Market monopolization by companies also lessened because there are now more company mills and broker companies, and because there are many more independent people collecting fresh fruit bunches. It is necessary for the government and companies to recognize the diverse local peoples' desires for land use decision-making and to incorporate them into development plans. It is also necessary to provide local people with useful information about oil palm cultivation to eliminate the difference between their expectations and reality.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMonoculture Farming
Subtitle of host publicationGlobal Practices, Ecological Impact and Benefits/Drawbacks
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9781634852128
ISBN (Print)9781634851664
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes


  • East kalimantan
  • Oil palm plantation
  • Perception
  • Swiddeners

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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