The oil palm industry has transformed rural livelihoods and landscapes across wide swathes of Southeast Asia, generating wealth along with economic, social, and environmental controversy. Who benefits and who loses from oil palm development? Can oil palm development provide a basis for inclusive and sustainable rural development? This book considers the impacts of specific communities and plantations. It analyses the regional political economy of oil palm, examining how the oil palm industry in Malaysia and Indonesia work as a complex, in which land, labour and capital are closely connected. It unpicks the dominant policy narratives, business strategies, models of land acquisition and labour-processes. Understanding this oil palm complex is a prerequisite to developing improved strategies to harness the oil palm boom for a more equitable and sustainable pattern of rural development.
Rob Cramb is Professor of Agricultural Development in the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences at the University of Queensland, Australia. John F. McCarthy is Director, Resources Environment and Development (RE&D) program, Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU College of Asia and the Pacific The Australian National University, Australia.