Authors Pierre Bois D’Enghien

Shifting to Oil Palm

What leads a farmer to become small oil palm planter?

In improving the living conditions of farmers, perennial cash crops occupy a prominent place.
The plantations of cocoa, rubber, coffee and palm oil are well suited to agricultural development, and when they are owned and managed by small independent farmers, their impact on the economy of a country can be fundamental. We also attributed to them the development of countries like Côte d’Ivoire, Malaysia and Indonesia for this private sector development programs.

However, small farmers have a preference for oil palm. Unlike cocoa or coffee, oil palm produces the entire year, with very little variation over time, and thus ensures a virtually stable monthly income to the farmer.

In Malaysia, an hectare of oil palm makes between 1,000 and 3,000 USD / year to its owner (depending on market prices). As the recommended minimum surface area is 4 hectares, a small farmer can earn income from 4000 to 12,000 $ / year, while the minimum wage in Malaysia is a little over 200 $ / month or 2,400 $ / year.

Touching most times, at least twice the statutory minimum wage, he can reasonably expect to get out of poverty and join the rural middle class.

The cultivation of oil palm requires very little technical skills and, unlike rubber, is available to all the villagers even without training. Harvesting and maintenance do not require expensive equipment, investments to start are low and accessible to the greatest number.

Almost all palm diseases can be defeated with integrated and mechanical tools; the low use of plant protection products does not make the small farmer dependent on external suppliers.

Besides the harvest that has to be delivered within 24 hours and a rare insect attack that must be treated immediately, all agricultural operations can be performed in a spread time that do not require immediate responsiveness; the worker has great flexibility in its work, unlike annual crops.

Oil growing is a real trigger for development and growth in the most remote and disadvantaged areas in tropical countries.

By Pierre Bois d'Enghien

Pierre Bois D’Enghien is an agronomist and agricultural expert from Belgium. He has spent his career advising African and international companies about agriculture and sustainability, including SOCFIN in the Cote d’Ivoire, the Feronia group in Congo, and the Belgian companies Condroz Energies. He is an acknowledged expert on plantation agriculture, including palm oil.