Dissection of social interaction and community engagement of smallholder oil palm in reducing conflict using soft system methodology

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Many impacts occur due to oil palm cultivation. One of them is a conflict that occurred in some regions, especially in Jambi Province in Indonesia. Most of the conflicts that occurred are related to natural resources. Disputes can be more complicated when there is any part of the land belongs to the government. Commonly, 30% of the plantations is owned by plasma land, while the remaining 70% is owned by nucleus land. Conflicts occurred due to the smallholders' position, which is a weak party in land tenure. The smallholders' low income was partly due to the high price of fertilizers, the toke's (middleman) low price, and related transportation problems. Differences in individual perceptions are also one of the conflicts that occur. The purpose of this study was to understand more deeply the conflict between smallholders, especially independent smallholders, and the company oil palm that occurred. By using soft system method-based action research, real-world primary data were collected through in-depth interviews with stakeholders (local government, smallholders, companies, and NGO activists) in Jambi. This article found that this system is also implemented in oil palm plantations in Indonesia. Independent smallholder oil palms also consider that community engagement should be involved as a learning effort. Therefore, social interaction and community involvement, through approaches with the government, companies, and oil palm planters in forms of social interaction and training, need to be applied to minimize oil palm conflicts. It is suggested that further research can provide a study, explanation, and implementation of existing policies so that the obligations and rights of smallholder oil palms and plantation companies do not cause oil palm conflicts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-283
Number of pages17
JournalOpen Agriculture
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • community engagement
  • oil palm
  • smallholder plantation
  • social interaction


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