Uptake of Better Management Practices (BMP) by Indonesian oil palm farmers after training and demonstrations


Indonesia is the largest producer of oil palm in the world, and more than 43% of the oil palm plantations is owned by smallholder farmers. Smallholders have a poor yield compared with large plantations, and one reason is that they often use sub-optimal management practices. Many NGOs and companies train farmers on BMP yet adoption is often low. In an attempt to close yield gaps we  will conduct experiments in the form of demonstration fields. We would like to know to what extent farmers participating in such a project implement the better practices in their other fields, and if any learning happens by the farmers in the community who are not participating in a project but who can see the Better Practices when they are implemented in experimental plots. Are there any enabling factors that allow some farmers to learn and implement the better practices, or constraining factors that lead to non-adoption? 

As a comparison, classroom trainings about better practices, with and without field exercises, have been implemented in a second research area in Jambi, Sumatra. Classroom trainings are faster and cheaper than experimental plots, but it is unclear to what extent farmers adopt the trained practices, and why. We would like to know more about this, and to compare the classroom training approach with the use of experimental plots. Are there common ‘attractive’ practices that all farmers like to implement? And are there practices which most farmers perceive as useless or too difficult? What is the difference between farmers and between areas? These and many other questions we would like to answer.


This project is a cooperation between the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation (KTI) group and the Plant Production Systems (PPS) group. 


The student working on this project is expected to develop a research plan, carry out two to three months of field work in Indonesia accompanied by a translator, process and analyse the results, and write a thesis report. We are specifically looking for a student with a broad interest who is able to work in the field independently. 

Funding is available for the air ticket, transportation in the field, a translator, visa costs. All other costs are to be paid by the student.

Location and Period

Field work in Indonesia; From September 2019 onwards.


Maja Slingerland                               0317 – 48 35 12                      maja.slingerland@wur.nl

Lotte Woittiez                                                                                    lotte.woittiez@wur.nl

Harro Maat (KTI)                                                                               harro.maat@wur.nl