Cargill’s Hindoli Plantation in South Sumatra does more than grow sustainable palm oil—it is a nourishing community for farmers and their families.
When Cargill acquired Hindoli in 1996, many of the plantation’s 8,500 smallholder farmers questioned the company’s intentions. To them, big businesses were only interested in making money, showing little concern for local citizens.
But Cargill’s approach was different: believing strong communities result in strong business growth, the company focused on farmers and their families. “We helped the community to take advantage of economic opportunities and achieve a better life for their families,” said Anthony Yeow, President Director of Hindoli. More than a plantation for sustainable palm oil, Hindoli would be a holistic living community, complete with industry-leading employment policies focused on diversity and inclusion, comprehensive health programs, and full facilities that meet the demands of modern Indonesian families.
Cargill established a full-time farmer development division to provide training that ranges from sustainable agricultural practices to business management. In 2010, the Hindoli farmers became the first to be certified under the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil’s (RSPO) Smallholder Principles & Criteria, helping them earn annual salaries more than three times the national average.
As the plantation evolved, so did the greater community. Cargill built schools, roads and hospitals, enhancing the area’s infrastructure. The impact was apparent in the neighboring town of Sungai Lilin, too, which boasted new homes, restaurants and hotels. With newfound access to the Internet, computers and smart phones, members of the community could connect to the world, and each other, like never before.
Hindoli was Cargill’s first major investment in Indonesian palm oil. Today, it stands as a model for environmental conservation, smallholder farmer empowerment and community support.