The area of oil palm plantations in Indonesia has increased from about 300,000 hectares in 1980 to about 11.6 million hectares in 2016 (Agriculture Ministry, 2015). During this process, the private individual-run oil palm plantations have shown rapid, some would say revolutionary, growth.
The nucleus estate smallholder (PIR) program run by the government is the entry point for individual participation in the national oil palm plantation development (Badrun, 2010, Sipayung, 2012). The PIRs consist of assisted PIRs, local PIRs and special PIRs set up by the government from 1977-1986; then followed by transmigration PIRs within the period 1985-1995; credit cooperatives(PIR/KKPA) 1995-2005 and plantation revitalization PIRs since 2005. The PIR policy and program series, is not only effective for smallholder plantations participating in PIRs, but it also stimulates and encourages other farmers (excluding participants) to run oil palm plantations independently (independent palm farmers).
The successful implementation of the PIR, has transformed the composition of national palm oil plantations (Figure).
In 1980, the share of private individual-run oil palm plantations was only 2 percent. But by 2016 this share had reached about 41 percent. Projected toward 2020, the share of people’s oil palm plantations will reach 50 percent, beyond the share of corporate oil palm plantations, which is expected to be 45 percent.
So, oil palm plantations in Indonesia do not only belong to large corporations (private or state-owned). In contrast, the share of private individual-run oil palm plantations shows a revolutionary increase and will account for the largest share in the future.