Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand are the three most important CPO producers in the world, contributing approximately 98% of world CPO production. Palm oil cultivation in these three countries relies significantly on smallholders, with total smallholder areas in Indonesia and Malaysia accounting for around 40% of the planted areas. Thailand has the largest percentage smallholder areas with 98% of its total oil palm plantation areas. Smallholders are important palm oil producers in the world and today this group consists of around 3 million smallholders with more than 40% share of the total world oil palm plantation areas.

However, smallholders face various challenges compared to larger commercial plantations, which include lack of improved and up-to-date agricultural knowledge and practices, poor yield and sustainable management. To address these problems, smallholders need the support from all related parties. Empirical research in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand are needed, not only in separate studies but also in an integrated and a comprehensive form. With this consideration, Universitas Sumatera Utara (USU), supported with funds from the Minister of Education, initiated a consortium to integrate these 3 countries. Indonesia is represented by 2 other universities, Universitas Jambi (UNJA) and Universitas Malikussaleh (UNIMAL), Malaysia with Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) and Thailand with Prince of Songkla University (PSU).

USU has conducted many studies in palm plantations in Sumatera, covering various aspects from technical to socio-economics. UPM is one of the top 5 research universities in Malaysia and has extensive research and publications related palm oil. PSU researchers have been involved in a number of projects in empowering oil palm smallholders. Universitas Jambi (UNJA) is the largest public university in Jambi, which has conducted studies in oil palm plantations with peatland issues. Universitas Malikussaleh (UNIMAL) is located in Aceh Utara, which is also one of the oil palm plantation development areas in Indonesia. The consortium is expected to develop joint movements that can improve the position of smallholders in the world market.


To become a leading consortium of academic institutions to conduct research and provide solutions to improve smallholders’ position in the global palm oil value chain


  1. To build a global palm oil research network

  2. To produce high quality empirical research output

  3. To provide solutions for oil palm smallholder issues


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