Oil palm plantation (elais guineensis) with partnership scheme is a combined mechanism between small farmers in global commodity economy with the aim to improve the farmer’s welfare. Studies, however, showed that the plasma farmer will get dependent, undeveloped, or excluded.
Farming partnership as a form of contract farming does not guarantee a good position of the small farmers, even putting them into asymmetrical relations which are disadvantaging or adverse incorporation, hence being unfortunately inclusive in the global farming systems.
"This fact contradicts the ideas and assumptions of partnership farming,” said Sukapti, S.Sos., M.Hum, at Faculty of Cultural Sciences UGM on Wednesday (15/8) in her doctoral examination.
Her research on three farming partnerships between Sawit Jaya farmers and PTPN XIII resulted in important outcomes, including that political context has affected the position and actor of farming relations.
The farmer’s position increases when controlling farming productive factors, which is the result of their making use of democratisation opportunities in the reform era, such as right of access to land, equal position of control, and justice for economic profit.
Sukapti said the partnership relations during the New Order in the People’s Farming was marked by the strong company domination on plasma farmers. Farmers were subordinated and stayed at the lowest level of partnership hierarchy.
"Farmers are equated with labour, not having role and control in decision making of production process,” said the lecturer from Mulawarman University in Samarinda.
During the reform era, farmers were able to access and control the plantation so they had equal position with the company. Partnership schemes reflected more of equality with the farmer’s position as farm owners.
"Such condition gives wider room for participation to farmers in decision making or planning and earning the profit they aim for,” she said.
There were also different strategies being employed to meet their interests, from being covered or disguised to being open, lucid, confrontative, or rational.
"This change confirms the increased capacity of negotiation of the farmers,” said Sukapti who was accompanied by promoter, Prof. Dr. Heddy Shri Ahimsa Putra, M.A., M.Phil, and co-promoter, Dr. Bambang Hudayana, M.A.