Haze control and oil palm smallholders - article published by The Habibie Center

Just to share our article on the Southeast Haze and smallholder issues.

17 December 2015: Updating with link to report on Felda case study by LMC International and note on 9 December 2015 Indonesia simultaneous local elections.

November 2015: Haze Control through the Sustenance of Indonesian Oil Palm Smallholders by Khor Yu Leng, Johan Saravanamuttu and Deborah Augustin.

Southeast Asia has arguably seen the worst-ever, certainly the longest, peat-driven haze-smoke pollution between September and November 2015.1 Some 43 million Indonesians were exposed continuously to toxic smog in Kalimantan and Sumatra. In neighboring Singapore and Malaysia, unhealthy to hazardous levels of haze-smoke were recorded causing the closing of schools and great consternation among the public. A number of Singaporean supermarkets stopped the sale of some products of alleged haze-causing companies..... haze pollution has continued on a yearly basis since 1997, due primarily to the burning on peatlands in Sumatra and Kalimantan. In 2015, fires have burned some two million hectares of land and over 100,000 fires have occurred. While El Nino climatic conditions exacerbate the situation, scientists consider it no longer a controlling factor, given the regularity of the problem.....

Going beyond reactive policies vis–à–vis the haze such as: (i) boycotts (possibly counter-productive), (ii) buying sustainably certified products (of rather limited reach and expected to create multi-tier prices, suppressing prices for its less desired peat zones) and (iii) suing and penalizing companies; we suggest several policy measures which would address a longer-term solution to the problem. In October, Indonesia’s attention rightly turned to the interests and prospects of its oil palm smallholders. At bottom line, what is required to handle the peat haze-smoke problem are proactive solutions......

Erratum on Pg 8 (previous version), corrected as follows: In fact, recent data from the Global Forest Watch website for 1 July to 2 November 2015 show that only 10 percent of fire alerts were on oil palm concession areas and 26 percent on pulpwood concessions.

You can find the article by downloading the Nov 2015 newsletter by The Habibie Center by clicking on this link:
Referring page: - newsletters section

About the authors

We are also part of the LMC International team for a review of the Malaysia Felda smallholders project (released in early December 2015); referring page: please refer to Consulting Report 12 – The Felda case study: (excerpt below)

Source: Consulting Study 12: The Felda case study, LMC International Ltd. This study was conducted between March to April 2015 by Yuleng Khor of LMC with research associates Dr Johan Saravanamuttu and Deborah Augustin.

Synthesis meeting of HCS+ study consultants, source:

Also in the same newsletter by The Habibie Center, some interesting infographics with CIFOR data on page 11:

Editor's note: The above focusses on land development phase. There are is also the (post land clearance) fire-haze-smoke zone labour and product supply-chains to consider. Local elections were held for 9 gubernatorial, 224 regent and 36 mayoral seats in Indonesia on 9 December 2015 - the first time that local elections are held simultaneously in one day. 

Nov 2015 newsletter by The Habibie Center by clicking on this link:
referring page: - newsletters section

Other think tank and academic papers on the political economy of palm oil by this blog editor: