The Oil Palm Complex: Smallholders, Agribusiness and the State in Indonesia and Malaysia

$38.00 SGD

Edited by Rob Cramb and John F. McCarthy
Contributions by Zahari Zen, Colin Barlow, Ria Gondowarsito, John F. McCarthy, Lesley M. Potter, Patrick S. Sujang, Patrice Levang, Wahyu Riva, Meri Orth, Piers Gillespie, Greg Acciaioli, Oetami Dewi, Tania Murray Li, Sunny Sanderson and Oliver Pye

The oil palm industry has transformed rural livelihoods and landscapes across wide swathes of Indonesia and Malaysia, 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? 

Based on detailed studies of  specific communities and plantations and an analysis of the regional political economy of oil palm, this book unpicks the dominant policy narratives, business strategies, models of land acquisition, and labour-processes. It presents the oil palm industry in Malaysia and Indonesia as a complex system in which land, labour and capital are closely interconnected. Understanding the oil palm complex is a prerequisite to developing better strategies to harness the oil palm boom for a more equitable and sustainable pattern of rural development.

"...a useful starting point for anyone seeking to develop a rich contextual understanding of the rapidly changing Southeast Asian oil palm sector and its history, and plenty of food for thought for those contemplating the future of palm oil production as the oil crops boom spreads across the topics."
- Ryan B. Edwards, Stanford University

"These two NUS Press titles (The Oil Palm Complex and Catastrophe and Regeneration in Indonesia's Peatlands) provide scholarship that elucidates the complexities of oil palm production, and the challenges presented by peatland agriculture as well as peatland restoration." - James Erbaugh, The Jakarta Post

"An impressive volume on the topic ...  this volume is requisite reading for all those who are interested in the under-belly of plantation agriculture." - Harvey Neo


Rob Cramb is professor of Agricultural Development in the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences at the University of Queensland.

John F. McCarthy is the Director of the Resources Environment and Development (RE&D) Program, Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University.

Publication Year: 2016
512 pages, 235mm x 156mm
ISBN: 978-981-4722-06-3

NUS Press

Related Title:
Catastrophe and Regeneration in Indonesia’s Peatlands: Ecology, Economy and Society edited by Kosuke Mizuno, Motoko S. Fujita and Shuichi Kawai