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Riset Dan Kerjasama

Kerjasama Riset dengan Program S2 International Studies, Utrecht University, The Netherlands

Tema Riset:

1. Strengthening local institutions for the transition of small-scale farmers from oil palm monoculture plantations to oil palm agroforestry

Viktoria Vero
International Development Studies MSc. – Utrecht University

Research objectives:

  1. To assess and strengthen the capacity of local institutions of one of the pilot programmes aiming to transition from oil palm monoculture to agroforestry;
  2. To develop a capacity development framework that can be adapted and used beyond the pilot programmes, facilitating the further implementation of oil palm agroforestry.

 The main research question: “How can local institutions better facilitate the transition of smallholder oil palm farmers from monoculture plantations to oil palm agroforestry?”

 Sub-questions supporting the main research question are:

  1. What roles do local institutions play in facilitating the transition of oil palm monoculture plantations to oil palm agroforestry?
  2. What are the capacities necessary for the local institutions to effectively fulfill these roles?
  3. What are their current capacities and the capacity gaps?
  4. What are the methods to develop the necessary capacity?
  5. What of the local capacity assessment and development can be translated into a framework for broader implementation?

The proposed approach would be the following:

  1. The overall research approach will be a Participatory Action Research
  2. The planned process is the following (in brief):
    1. Analyzing the formal and informal institutions, actors involved in the pilot programme, and the dynamics between them – this will address the questions “capacity for whom?” and “capacity for what?” -, as well as what has been done so far in terms of capacity strengthening;
    2. Delivering a participatory capacity assessment process targeting the relevant local institutions, focusing on assessing knowledge, skill and competence in order to support the transition towards oil palm agroforestry;
    3. Advising on a capacity development approach, based on the assessment done in step 3;
    4. Translating the research and actions of the pilot programme into lessons learnt and a more generic, re-usable process framework.

2. Assessing the influence of social-ecological factors on the implementation of Oil Palm Agroforestry in small holder practices in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia

Sarah-Claude Amyot
International Development Studies MSc. – Utrecht University

Abstract: The rise in global demand for palm oil has profoundly transformed the Indonesian agricultural sector in recent years, as Indonesian palm oil exportations account for 55% of the global market (OEC, 2019). Representing 9% of Indonesian exports, the palm oil industry is the most important agricultural export sector in the country (OEC, 2019). The enthusiasm for harvesting palm oil has led to severe cases of deforestation and degradation of ecosystems, having direct consequences on small-scale farmers, who own 40% of the oil palm plantations in Indonesia (UNDP, 2019). In reaction to these issues, scholars, such as Bhagwat & Willis (2008), argue that agroforestry constitutes a sustainable alternative to oil palm monocropping. In this line of thinking, the faculty of forestry of GMU developed a project that aims to promote a transition towards Oil Palm Agroforestry (OPAF) in smallholder farming communities. The projects are currently being developed in the districts of Jambi and Central Kalimantan, which constitutes two of the most important Oil Palm harvesting regions in Indonesia. While a lot of literature focuses on the environmental aspects of agroforestry in oil palm plantations, a gap exists regarding the impacts of such practices on the livelihoods of farming communities. According to the project description, there seems to be some resistance from smallholders regarding the adoption of OPAF. This research aims to examine the factors that influence the implementation of OPAF in Central Kalimantan. In order to obtain a proper understanding of the situation, both social and ecological factors will be examined, because both are relevant to agroforestry techniques.

Research Objective: To investigate which socio-ecological factors could facilitate the implementation of OPAF in Central Kalimantan

Research Question: What are the socio-ecological implications for livelihood dynamics that enable and constraint the adoption of OPAF?

The proposed research question leads to the following sub-questions:

  1. What are current agroforesty techniques in the region, and what is their effectiveness?
  2. What are the socio-ecological factors currently influencing the implementation of OPAF in smallholders farming communities?
  3. What are the key factors that could influence farmers in adopting OPAF techniques?
  4. How are the OPAF techniques perceived by the farmers versus conventional palm oil harvesting?

Research activities:

Research on current agroforestry practices in the region will be conducted in order to understand what factors convinced the actors to adopt OPAF techniques. This can be achieved by surveys and/or interviews. Further interviews will be conducted with farmers who have not adopted OPAF in order to understand what could be done in order to influence their adoption.

3. Social power relations and the role of gender influencing the lives of local smallholders farmer transitioning from monoculture oil palm plantations to agroforestry in Indonesia

Aliza Selles
International Development Studies MSc. – Utrecht University

Abstract: For my research I will be looking at the improvement of local smallholder farmers livelihoods and the strengthening of local institutions in the transition from oil palm monoculture plantations to agroforestry. My interests lie in the differentiation of livelihood implications and social equity. The relation with environmental sustainability and biodiversity preservation will be central to my research. These issues are often addressed in existing research and have proven to be of high importance. What I have learned from my literature study is that the transition from oil palm monoculture to agroforestry has not been without consequences. It is a highly diverse issue with many actors involved leading to various conflicts. Therefore it will be very interesting to look at the social implications and inequalities in order to give a voice to smaller local actors in a global debate.

My main research question will be: “How are the livelihoods of local smallholder farmers influenced by the implementation of the SJB strategy?”

To answer this question, several sub-questions will have to be discussed.

  1. How does the implementation influence farmers daily lives and food security?
    1. Why would farmers (not) be interested in the SJB strategy?
    2. What makes a smallholders’ social/economic position differ from others?
  2. What are the visible power relations between local actors involved in the implementation of the SJB strategy?
    1. Why do power relations play a role in strengthening local institutions?
    2. How do these power relations display social (in)equality?
  3. How does the implementation of the SJB strategy contribute to environmental sustainability?
    1. What type of environmental and biodiversity effects have been observed?
  4. How could the improvement of environmental sustainability through the implementation of the SJB strategy improve the livelihoods of local farmers?