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IPAC Report 31: Anatomy of an Indonesian Oil Palm Conflict

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More extensive consultation, better maps and a better grievance mechanism could have helped prevent a conflict at a palm oil plantation in Kubu Raya, West Kalimantan that has now dragged on for seven years. The longer it has gone on, the messier it has become, with new parties that were never part of the original dispute and a dangerous ethnic dimension that has just emerged.

In its latest report, Anatomy of an Indonesian Oil Palm Conflict, IPAC examines a conflict that began in 2009 with a concession awarded to private company without full consultation with the affected farmers across seven villages and without clear mapping or markers to determine the boundaries. A second company secured a permit shortly thereafter and began planting oil palm on land that encroached on the first concession. Both companies made deals with village heads for acquiring land, some of which was individually owned by both long-term Melayu and Bugis villagers as well as by Javanese transmigrants.  Both also made vague promises about including farmers as smallholders on the plantation, raising expectations that were never fulfilled. As discontent grew, a farmers union backed by the second company began organising farmers who had lost their land to the first. Local politicians and police got involved, and a dispute that could have been relatively easy to resolve at the outset became infinitely more complicated.

Report Summary

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