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ISSN 0128-7702

Home / Regular Issue / JSSH Vol. 30 (1) Mar. 2022 / JSSH-8162-2021


The Future of Oil Palm Smallholders Toward Greater Sustainability: A Systematic Literature Review

Zaifalaila Zakaria, Abdul Rahman Abdul Rahim and Zaki Aman

Pertanika Journal of Social Science and Humanities, Volume 30, Issue 1, March 2022


Keywords: Malaysia, oil palm smallholders, PRISMA, sustainability, systematic literature review

Published on: 16 March 2022

Oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) has been widely used in various products, namely, food, fuel, feed, and pharmaceuticals (4Fs), ultimately cementing the significant roles of the palm oil sector in Malaysia’s economic growth, extensive rural development, political stability, and now directly in sustainable development agenda. In the context of the palm oil sector, smallholders significantly contribute to almost 30% of the total oil palm planted areas in Malaysia. However, the participation of oil palm independent smallholders (OPISH) has remained limited and far behind compared to private business entities in achieving greater sustainability. Due to the unforeseeable global trends and rising public concern over this sector’s sustainability issues, smallholders are now urged to produce certified sustainable palm oil. These issues have motivated this systematic literature review to be undertaken by critically analysing existing studies on sustainability efforts implemented by the smallholders according to the PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis) guidelines. As per the findings of this systematic review, four main themes emerged: land settlement schemes, agricultural policy and strategies, heterogeneity of the smallholders, and sustainability certifications. The theoretical implication of this study is that these crucial themes are highly relevant in providing a foundation for a conceptual framework that portrays a complete picture of holistic sustainability practices amongst OPISH. Concerning practical implication, these identified themes provide significant insights in designing effective strategies and specific incentives as the palatable solutions for OPISH to implement sustainability practices that will transform the palm oil sector towards a sustainable future.

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