Green economy, oil palm development, and the exclusion of Indigenous swidden cultivators in the Philippines
Green economy programs involve agro-industrial development in land frontiers for activities that are considered low-carbon or as seen as supporting greenhouse gas reduction. In the Philippines, as in many parts of South-East Asia, oil palm plantations are promoted as a form of green growth, contributing to food security and biofuels while meeting reforestation goals on lands that are often classified as idle, or waste, but may not be in practice. The paper explores the implications of oil palm development on land tenure security of smallholder swidden cultivators from indigenous communities.
Research goals & methods
The author conducts an ethnographic study in Palawan, a province in the Philippines, and also draws on an analytical framework developed by Derek Hall, Philip Hirsch, and Tania Murray Li in their book ‘Powers of Exclusion: Land Dilemmas in Southeast Asia.’
Conclusions & takeaways
The author finds the local processes, driven by non-indigenous smallholder farmers are partly responsible for the exclusion of indigenous smallholder farmers. Four interrelated processes contribute to smallholder farmers choosing to convert fallow land into monocrop oil palm plantations, including development discourses that favor oil palm, the expansion of local land markets and the consequent increase in the price of land, increased conflict, and regulation that redefines land-uses. This makes it more difficult for indigenous smallholder farmers to access or lease fallow land for swidden cultivation.
Montefrio, M.J.F. (2015). ‘Green Economy, Oil Palm Development and the Exclusion of Indigenous Swidden Cultivators in the Philippines’ (Paper Presentation). Land grabbing, conflict and agrarian‐environmental transformations: perspectives from East and Southeast Asia. Chiang Mai University, Thailand.
- Yale-NUS College