Air Nyatoh Villagers Oppose Palm Oil Plantation Agreement Over Loan Repayment Terms

Illustration of Palm oil plantation. Photo by: Palmoilmagazine

PALMOILMAGAZINE, WEST BANGKA – Dozens of villagers from Air Nyatoh gathered at the local village office to voice their opposition to a palm oil plantation agreement made by several smallholder groups with stakeholders in Simpang Teritip, West Bangka Regency, in the Kepulauan Bangka Belitung Province.

According to the agreement, 30 smallholders would each receive 2 hectares of land, while a private company would provide the necessary capital under specific conditions. One condition stipulated that the harvests must be sold to the private company for the next 30 years.

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The official agreement, signed by the village head, the chairman of the smallholder groups, and the capital-providing stakeholders, included a clause stating that if the groups were unable to repay the loan, they would have to return their palm oil plantations to the private company as repayment. Once the land was returned, the private company would take full ownership, with no future claims allowed.

Also Read: Empowering Independent Smallholders: Exploring Alternative Income Sources

Safari, one local villager, was concerned because the agreement between smallholders’ groups and the stakeholders clearly regulated that if the smallholders groups could not afford their debts, their plantations would be sealed. “And would belong to the stakeholders. The areas are in the form of forests and are being processed by using heavy tools,” he said, as quoted from Inews on Friday, May 24, 2024.

The villagers are afraid that the agreement would not help them but to master their areas within other use area (OUA) status. They suspected that there might be something hidden among the stakeholder, the head of the village, and Badan Permusyawaratan Desa (BPD) Air Nyatoh. “The status of the forest is OUA, and after it is cultivated, it may happen that the area document will be published. We suspect it,” Safari said.

They also hoped the government, from the village to the regency, would notice the issue so that there would be nothing to lose from the plan to develop palm oil plantations. “There is no clear information for us. We are being confronted with the stakeholder and the 30 men from the smallholders’ group. It needs a solution fast,” Safari said. (T2)

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