Story

The Impact of the Palm Oil Industry on Indonesian Farmers and the Environment

xyzacruzbacani-7632.jpg

Palm oil workers earn very little - about 2.5 million rupiahs (US$173) per month - from this dangerous job and their health suffers from the environmental impact of the industry. Image by Xyza Cruz Bacani. Indonesia, 2018.

Palm oil workers earn very little - about 2.5 million rupiahs (US$173) per month - from this dangerous job and their health suffers from the environmental impact of the industry. Image by Xyza Cruz Bacani. Indonesia, 2018.

xyza6.jpeg

Palm oil is a billion-dollar industry that significantly contributes to the economy of Indonesia, which is a major global supplier and has plantations that stretch for millions of hectares. In this picture, farmer Puryito carries a palm fruit on a plantation in Kandis. Puryito’s whole family works on the plantations. Image by Xyza Cruz Bacani. Indonesia, 2018.

Palm oil is a billion-dollar industry that significantly contributes to the economy of Indonesia, which is a major global supplier and has plantations that stretch for millions of hectares. In this picture, farmer Puryito carries a palm fruit on a plantation in Kandis. Puryito’s whole family works on the plantations. Image by Xyza Cruz Bacani. Indonesia, 2018.

xyzabacani3.png

Once-clean air is now filled with fumes from mills and the river that used to be clear and flowing is now murky and discoloured with mud. A sign beside the river discourages people from using the water. Image by Xyza Cruz Bacani. Indonesia, 2018.

Once-clean air is now filled with fumes from mills and the river that used to be clear and flowing is now murky and discoloured with mud. A sign beside the river discourages people from using the water. Image by Xyza Cruz Bacani. Indonesia, 2018.

xyzabacani4.png

Rapid deforestation in Indonesia has contributed to irreversible climate change. The country has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2019 but the impact of deforestation is still felt by locals. Here a family living on the palm oil plantation bathes and washes clothes in the murky water of the reservoir which is the community’s only source of water. Image by Xyza Cruz Bacani. Indonesia, 2018.

Rapid deforestation in Indonesia has contributed to irreversible climate change. The country has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2019 but the impact of deforestation is still felt by locals. Here a family living on the palm oil plantation bathes and washes clothes in the murky water of the reservoir which is the community’s only source of water. Image by Xyza Cruz Bacani. Indonesia, 2018.

xyza9.jpeg

A pile of palm husk at a mill. According to the locals, the husk and kernel of the palm fruit are burnt after use, spreading their pungent smell throughout the area. Image by Xyza Cruz Bacani. Indonesia, 2018.

A pile of palm husk at a mill. According to the locals, the husk and kernel of the palm fruit are burnt after use, spreading their pungent smell throughout the area. Image by Xyza Cruz Bacani. Indonesia, 2018.

xyzabacani6.png

Working on plantations is often a family affair. Wives take care of saplings while the husbands harvest the heavy palm fruits that can weigh up to 50kg. Farmer Misnan, pictured, lost his arm in an accident while carrying a sharp scythe on his motorbike on the way to the plantation in January 2018. He now works as a toy seller, earning 70,000 Rupiah (US$4.90) per week. Image by Xyza Cruz Bacani. Indonesia, 2018.

Working on plantations is often a family affair. Wives take care of saplings while the husbands harvest the heavy palm fruits that can weigh up to 50kg. Farmer Misnan, pictured, lost his arm in an accident while carrying a sharp scythe on his motorbike on the way to the plantation in January 2018. He now works as a toy seller, earning 70,000 Rupiah (US$4.90) per week. Image by Xyza Cruz Bacani. Indonesia, 2018.

xyzacruzbacani-15.jpg

Kesuma Wati once lived a simple, happy life with her family. Her husband Bin Saimin drove a truck for years until the vehicle fell into disrepair. The need to provide for his family led him to the plantation. Things took a turn for the worse when an argument with the assistant plantation manager landed him in jail. Kesuma asked around for help, but none came. Her health was deteriorating and her husband still in jail when this picture was taken. Image by Xyza Cruz Bacani. Indonesia, 2018.

Kesuma Wati once lived a simple, happy life with her family. Her husband Bin Saimin drove a truck for years until the vehicle fell into disrepair. The need to provide for his family led him to the plantation. Things took a turn for the worse when an argument with the assistant plantation manager landed him in jail. Kesuma asked around for help, but none came. Her health was deteriorating and her husband still in jail when this picture was taken. Image by Xyza Cruz Bacani. Indonesia, 2018.

xyzabacani8.png

Indonesia has taken steps to reduce the impact of palm oil production on the environment, yet locals still suffer. The workers’ only hope now is for their children to leave the plantations for a better life. Image by Xyza Cruz Bacani. Indonesia, 2018.

Indonesia has taken steps to reduce the impact of palm oil production on the environment, yet locals still suffer. The workers’ only hope now is for their children to leave the plantations for a better life. Image by Xyza Cruz Bacani. Indonesia, 2018.

Palm oil is used in food and cosmetics, and palm plantations are a major agricultural activity in Indonesia. Yet it is having a negative environmental impact on the country, is contributing to global warming, and farmers are often underpaid and suffer health problems. Filipina photographer Xyza Bacani’s project, supported by the Pulitzer Center, records the hardship of the farmers who work and live on palm oil plantations with their families.