Oil Palm Opens Chance for Smallholder Children to go to University

JAKARTA, SAWIT INDONESIA- Ngadimun is a palm oil smallholder from Magelang, Central Java, who managed to finance his four children’s education from palm oil income. Even, two of them continued their education with Gajah Mada University (UGM) and Muhamadiyah University in Yogyakarta.

“One of my children is getting education of master degree in UGM, majoring in politics. Not agriculture. That’s okay. We parents want them to get higher education,” said Ngadimun.

Ngadimun was interested to join the special transmigration program under the government’s program of oil palm plantation migrants (PIR TRANS) because of his brother’s persuasion. He arrived in Kuamang Kuning, Jambi, in 1988. He then expanded his plantation by buying other migrants’ oil palm plantations. At that time, an oil palm plantation with the size of 3.5 hectare was priced at Rp1.2 million. It had been included with house and plantation.

Ngadimun said that he was happy to own a land site of 3.5 hectares as it was very difficult in his home town to get landsite at that size. When the plantation not yet in production, he planted rice, corn, soybean and sweet potatoes. “The harvest was just enough for own food need, as we only rely on rains,” he said.

To increase income, Ngadimun then turned to oil palm. He joined the program of PIR-Trans. Through this program he got to know PT Sari Aditya Loka (SAL)-2, a subsidiary of PT Astra Agro Lestari Tbk, which accommodates the development of the smallholders.

Under the program, the development and maintenance of oil palm plantation are conducted by PT SAL 2. Since 1992, they started the oil palm plantation. It started production in 1996. At that time the palm oil price was Rp400 per kilogram.

Unlike other agriculture plants, the income from palm oil is more promising. Every month Ngadimun earns a regularly income by harvesting his oil palm plantation twice a month. For four years, he regularly paid installments of his debt under the program of PIR-TRANS from his monthly income.

The father of four children took the risk of increasing his oil plantation size by taking loan from bank. Now, the 61-year-old man has a total of 10 hectares oil palm plantation. Every month he managed to harvest 14 tons or around 7 tons in every two weeks. With fresh fruit bunches at the price of Rp1,625 per kilogram in September 2018, then his income is Rp22.75 million per month. Besides oil palm, he also planted snakefruit in his backyard.

Ngadimun is grateful over the fact that his life changed by palm oil. With the palm oil income, he is able to finance the education of his children up to university. “Without palm oil, my life would possibly be not as good as now,” he said. (*)

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