Estate and Smallholding Oil Palm Production in Sarawak: A Comparison of Profitability and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

  • Fumikazu UbukataEmail author
  • Yucho Sadamichi
Part of the Advances in Asian Human-Environmental Research book series (AAHER)


Using field data and information from a palm oil company and neighbouring independent smallholders in Sarawak, this research estimated the profitability and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions of oil palm producers, and compared the outputs of estate and smallholder production systems. The results indicate that the estate and smallholders had unique operation styles and costs incurred, with the estate achieving greater productivity (and profitability) per hectare and higher GHG emissions per net profit when the emissions from land-use change were considered. Efficiency in terms of fertiliser application was key to explaining this difference. Nonetheless, it was evident that the overall cost efficiency of smallholders was not lower than that of the estate. If the effect of land-use changes is considered, estate production results in much higher GHG emissions (and hence greater environmental costs) than smallholder production. The results also indicate large variations in the costs, revenues and GHG emissions among smallholders. This may reflect less standardised aspects of operations and therefore a relatively high degree of flexibility in smallholder production, as well as other variables such as site conditions and the age of trees.


Sarawak Oil palm plantations Smallholders Land-use change Greenhouse gases 



This study was supported by the Grants-in-Aid for Scientific Research (S) of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science for the project titled ‘Planted Forests in Equatorial Southeast Asia: Human-Nature Interactions in High Biomass Society’. The authors would like to express their gratitude to the estate company staff and smallholders in Sarawak for their sincere cooperation during the research.


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Environmental and Life ScienceOkayama UniversityOkayamaJapan
  2. 2.Japan NUS Co., Ltd.YokohamaJapan

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