From Rubber to Oil

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OIL PALM IS OFTEN CULTIVATED in peatland forests. For decades now peatland forests have been converted into land for agricultural activities, both by local communities and by large corporations. Rubber and pineapple plantations were common in the areas that are today occupied by oil palm.

I want to tell you why we do oil palm farming. In the beginning we were Malay villagers especially here in Kerinci Kanan, our income was from old rubber farming. Old rubber, so we didn't have enough income from month to month. Then a company arrived, they were called PT, to plant palm trees here and we locals followed the government program that was started then by president Suharto. That is how it started. H. ARNEDI, contract farmer, Riau Province.

LAND USED TODAY FOR AGRICULTURAL ACTIVITIES USED TO BE PEATLAND FORESTS.

SUHERMAN→ Before oil palm arrived here the majority of us were rubber farmers. They told us that oil palm farming was easier. With rubber we had to work everyday, and the future of palm is brighter.

FARMERS HARVESTING RUBBER AS SHOWN IN A DOCUMENTARY FILM FROM THE 1920s.

BASTORI→ I started planting oil palm trees in 2003. I was a rubber farmer but when the price of rubber dropped I decided to join the oil palm farmers. We planted rubber before the oil palm farms, we cut rubber, as we say here, but it was not fulfilling. We could barely eat then, but it's different now with oil palm farming. We are not prosperous yet, but we have enough to eat.

 

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