Palm Oil (sawit)

Palm oil plantations cover a huge part of the Jambi Province.

Palm oil trees are a common sight throughout the Jambi Province. In our travels around the province there have been times, that as far as the eye can see, in all directions, the entire region was a palm oil plantation.

Palm Oil Trees

Palm oil has become an expanding business and Indonesia has become the world leader in palm oil production. This business has become a major source of livelihood for people in Jambi, whether its landowners, hired farmers that collect the palm oil pods, truck drivers that transport it, or those who work in the factories processing it. There are many jobs provided due to the worlds demand for this oil.

Palm Oil Seedlings

Below is information that could satisfy tourist’s questions as they drive around the province.

Questions and Answers

How long does it take from the time a seed is planted until the palm oil seedling is ready to be sold and replanted?

  • After 3-4 months. When the seedling produces 4-5 leaves it’s ready to be re-planted.

How long does it take, from when a seedling is re-planted in the field, till the time palm oil can be harvested from that tree?

Harvested palm oil pods.

  • It’s usually around 3.5 years.

How long will a palm oil tree continue to produce?

  • Around 25-30 years. After that the tree will be cut down and a new tree planted.

Can you use the wood from a palm oil tree for construction material?

  • Yes. It’s beginning to be used to make furniture as well as for building construction. It has always been used to produce heat for cooking.

How often can you harvest a palm oil tree? Are there season when it produces?

Palm Oil Berries

  • The tree produces all year long.
  • Trees are usually harvested 2x per month.
  • From January – August, during the rainy season, the trees produce more.
  • The trees are fertilized every 2 weeks

Load of palm oil pods.

Palm oil pods on the back of a truck.









This graph shows the value of palm oil.

Month Price (USD) Per Metric Ton (2,205 Lb)
Feb 2012 1,047.69
Mar 2012 1,105.74
Apr 2012 1,157.45
May 2012 1,031.12
Jun 2012 927.63
Jul 2012 952.54
Aug 2012 930.61

Palm oil growing on the tree.

Below is a video that shows that there are motorized tools which make harvesting palm oil easier, and though this equipment may be used in Jambi, we have never seen it. We have also never seen the harvesters wearing safety equipment. We’ve also never seen small tractors hauling the bunches out to the main roads for pick up. The harvesters in Jambi carry the bunches by hand out of to a central pick-up location, and then they hand-load them onto trucks. There are no conveyors or end-loaders that does this task for them.

This short video gives an overview of palm oil farming.

This video shows palm oil being processed by hand in Africa.

The Jambi plantations and individual landowners always sell their produce to the closest processing factory. It’s too time consuming to do this task by hand.