Social innovation to promote sustainability and independence of small-scale palm oil farmers in the Province of Jambi, Indonesia: A case study of the independent small-scale palm oil farmers in the Province of Jambi, Indonesia

Anita Nathalia Firman

Student thesis: Master thesis


The aim of this thesis was to investigate the situation of the independent small-scale palm oil farmers in the Province of Jambi, Indonesia regarding the practices of palm oil production that cause deforestation in Sumatra. The goal of this thesis was to provide sustainable opportunities for the independent small-scale farmers in Jambi through social innovation. The field research took place at the village of Mekar Jaya and Sungai Rotan Village in the Provinces of Jambi, Indonesia.

In the frame of social constructionism, the investigation was conducted from the perspective of the independent small-scale palm oil farmers, the smallholder manager of PT Inti Indo Sawit Subur (PT IIS), the executive director of the local NGO Setara in Jambi and the representative of international NGO Roundtable Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in Jakarta. Several problems and needs were detected.

The interviews were analyzed in consideration of the combination of the two concepts of ‘sustainability’ and ‘social innovation’. The social innovation concepts such as the social systems (mechanism) of Innovations, the innovation of society and the social responsibility of innovations gave an advantage for the farmers to take the action in the sustainable development path. Innovative governance through certification system created by RSPO brought advantages for the farmers towards sustainable production. Although, the analysis of the qualitative and quantitative highlighted that the farmers were struggling to balance the three pillars of sustainability (social, economic and environment). They neither understood the concept of sustainability nor the thinking on which the rules of the certification process are based upon. The innovation of society was linked to the initiative of the local NGO Setara that helped the farmers’ capacity by educating and forming the farmers into groups of certifications.

Based on the main problem and needs of the farmers, in the respect of the social responsibility of innovation I suggested a self-sustaining agriculture activities such as producing own organic fertilizer. It could also counteract the imbalance of the three pillar of sustainability, economy, society and environment.

EducationsMaster of Social Entrepreneurship and Management, (Master) Master
Publication date27 Jun 2017
Number of pages76
SupervisorsVilly Rasmussen


  • Social innovation
  • Sustainability
  • Palm oil in the Province of Jambi, Indonesia
  • Sustainable agriculture
  • The innovation of society
  • Innovative governance
  • RSPO