Resource Details

Smallholder plantations in the tropics – local people between outgrower schemes and reforestation programmes

Literature: Books or Book Chapters Available at NO COST

Pokorny, B., Hoch, L. & Maturana, J. 2010, "Smallholder plantations in the tropics – local people between outgrower schemes and reforestation programmes" in Ecosystem Goods and Services from Plantation Forests, eds. J. Bauhus, P.J. van der Meer & M. Kanninen, Earthscan, London, pp. 140-170.

Contact Info

  • Lisa Hoch:
  • Julia Maturana:
  • Benno Pokorny:


  • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) GmbH Brasilia, Brazil
  • Universidad Católica Santo Toribio, Peru
  • University of Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany



Available for free from CIFOR.


  • As part of a book on plantation forestry, this chapter focuses on smallholders and plantation forestry. The authors combine studies from Asia, Africa, and South America with their own experience and data from Brazil.
  • The authors outline the different systems of plantation forestry for smallholders including those initiated by commericial entities such as outgrower schemes. Governments and non-profits inititate programs for ecosystem services or income generation through agroforestry. They also emphasize that smallholders intitiate their own efforts of production forests, agroforestry systems, and homegardens.
  • Smallholders participate in commericial programs for the income generation benefits. Yet, the authors found that the smallholders in the Amazon rarely profited from their participation because of the high cost of inputs and site preparation.
  • The more initial costs can be covered by an outside organization the more financially attractive it can be for smallholders.
  • For programs targeting environmental services, secondary forests can be as good as plantation forests (especially of exotic species). Therefore, programs focused on ecosystem services could reduce costs and increase attractiveness of smallholders by focusing on natural regeneration.
  • Strategies must be both efficient and flexible to account for fluctuations in market prices and costs and logistics of transport to market.
  • Income security is another challenge because the investment in trees can be lost to fire, pests, or theft.  The smallholder is particularly at risk with loans if a fire comes through, causing the loss of all income but still the requirement to pay debts.
  • Smallholders are also at a disadvantage when negotiating with commericial and other entities because they are not experienced.
  • While tree farming may not be any more work per hectare than agriculture, the delayed return on investment means that smallholders will stay with agriculture.
  • Incorporating trees into agroforestry systems and focusing on trees that provide non-timber forest products, such as fruit, which provide income over time.

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