Agrarian Transformation, State Policy and Oil Palm Development on the Indonesian and Malaysian Frontier

Research team

Funding agency

Research summary

Over recent decades an agricultural transformation has altered agricultural land uses across Asia. In Malaysia and Indonesia modernized plantations and smallholders have shifted into the key African crop, oil palm. This project will explore the linkages between agrarian and environmental change, governance systems and conflict by studying how policy and economic developments are affecting rural communities. It will produce a comparative study that will be relevant to policy discussions and scholarship and of interest to donor agencies and practitioners as well as educational institutions and the wider international research community.

This research will develop an integrated understanding of rapid agrarian transitions occurring in “outer island” Indonesia and Malaysian Borneo. It will specifically aim to:

  • Understand the impact of policy regimes and economic forces on smallholder farmers, focusing on community resistance to and engagement with the wider processes driving agrarian change.
  • Analyse how the different governance arrangements in Malaysia and Indonesia have affected the terms under which actors control or gain access to productive agricultural resources on agrarian frontiers.
  • Examine the relationship between the parallel processes of agrarian transition, governance reform, environmental change and resource conflict in the context of wider international debates and consider alternative policy formulations.

Updated:  28 February 2024/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team