UPM & MPOB, Malaysia
Malaysia is among the top most important palm oil producers in the world. The country is experiencing a robust development in new oil palm plantations and palm oil mills. This commodity plays a significant role in the Malaysia economic growth. Oil palm planted area in 2015 reached 5.64 million hectares, an increase of 4.6% as against 5.39 million hectares recorded in the previous year. Total exports of oil palm products increased marginally by 1.2% to 25.37 million tonnes in 2015 from 25.07 million tonnes exported in 2014. There are reports that smallholders can reach up to 30 tonnes per hectare per year with the effective practices. 7-12 years is the optimum age of oil palm to produce an optimum production or fresh fruit bunch. However, based on FFB production analysis in 2014, there were differences of average FFB production in two districts in Johor which is too high and low. (23.91 ton/ha/year in Simpang Renggam and 14.01 tan/ha/year in Pontian).Thus, this study was undertaken to investigate the contribution of the participatory element which is one of the social capital elements towards the FFB production among independent smallholders in Johor. Materials and Methods. This study was conducted in two districts in Johor which is Simpang Renggam and Pontian. Qualitative approached was used for 9 informants with face to face interview. Purposive sampling was used according to preselected criteria that relevant to a particular research question. Results and Discussion From the finding of this study, high participation in social activities was effected oil palm production of independent smallholders in Pontian and Simpang Renggam. Independent smallholders who are actively joined in an association which is in Pontian revealed high FFB production while independent smallholders in Simpang Renggam who are less involved in any association shows low FFB production. As for the results of this study, high level of participation was given a positive impact on the FFB production performance from 2014 to 2016. The FFB performance of independent smallholders from Pontian was increased from 11 tonne/ha/year in 2014 to 13.5 tonne/ha/year in 2016 while the FFB production performance for independent smallholders from Simpang Renggam, with lower participation level, was decreased from 25.0 tonnes/ha/year in 2014 to 21.0 tonne/ha/year in 2016. This is because the informants from Simpang Renggam tend to have very limited input, knowledge, and skills if compared to an informant from Pontian, who had actively been a part of community participants and absorbed abundant of knowledge from the association platform. Conclusion. The study indicates that high participation level among the smallholders was given positive impact towards the FFB production.
social capital, oil palm, FFB production, participation, independent smallholders