Tree crop smallholders, capitalism and adat: studies in Riau Province, Indonesia

Lesley Potter, S Badcock

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    This paper examines the extent to which traditional techniques and practices remain current among a sub-set of Indonesian tree crop smallholders. Village-based studies of independent oil palm and rubber smallholders in Riau (Sumatra) indicate that bio-diverse 'jungle rubber' and multi-cropping techniques still exist, but primarily as components of farmers' coping strategies under low commodity prices. A further strategy, seeking income from non-agrarian sources, notably 'illegal' logging and land sales to migrants, partially fits Rigg's 'deagrarianisation' thesis, though his suggestion that the farm household has become a mere 'shell' is not substantiated. The lack of full legalisation of tenure constrains full capitalist development but does not impede land sales. Land seizures during the Suharto period reduced belief in the efficacy of customary (adat) law, though adat has retained importance in dispute resolution and as a cultural framework. New structures of village governance following decentralisation have so far had minimal impact in either empowering villagers or dispossessing elites.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)341-356
    JournalAsia Pacific Viewpoint
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


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