“Why you Europeans don’t like palm oil?”
To get a better understanding on sustainable palm oil on the ground, Thijs Pasmans traveled to Indonesia to do a learning project on palm oil smallholders and their livelihoods. In this article he shares his experience and insights.
“Why you Europeans don’t like palm oil?” Imagine you were asked this question by an Indonesian palm oil smallholder in north Sumatra. You are sitting opposite each ot her on the porch of his house. His wife is preparing dinner in the kitchen behind, his son is learning to ride the motorbike on the dirt road in front. Your host and you are joined by the local farmers group to talk about palm oil that afternoon.
They tell how they apply fertiliser, do manual weeding and how frequent they harvest, but also why they switched from rubber to palm oil in the first place. And that they struggle with low yielding trees and that it is difficult to get a loan from the bank.