Sustainable Oil Palm Farming / Road maintenance

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Download: Module 2: Harvesting, Grading, Transport


  • Ensure fast and efficient transport of fresh fruit bunches to the mill;
  • Ensure good access to the plantations for farmers and labourers;
  • Reduce damage to trucks.


  • Road surface is flat, compacted and without holes;
  • Road is passable 365 days per year;
  • Drainage ditches are free from weeds and rubbish.


  • Before the peak production season;
  • Before and after the rainy season.


  • Small repairs undertaken as needed;
  • Large check/repairs completed yearly.

Labour time required

  • Depends on the activities and equipment available;
  • Local construction workers can be asked for help.

Equipment and materials

  • Depends on the repairs required and on available machinery and materials.
  • Standard maintenance requires:
- Gravel or oil palm kernel shells;
- Excavator (if available).


  • A special department in the cooperative;
  • Selected cooperative members;
  • If necessary, hired construction workers.


Figure 11: This road is in very poor condition and needs to be improved.
Figure 12: This road is in excellent condition.

If roads are in bad condition, transport of the fresh fruit bunches will be slower and therefore more expensive (see Figure 11). Regular maintenance of roads also prevents damage from becoming too large to repair.

Road maintenance can be the responsibility of (local) governments or plantation companies. If no one else takes responsibility, then road maintenance should be arranged by the cooperative.

Routine maintenance of roads should include 1:

  • Graveling of roads;
  • Filling in potholes;
  • Cleaning weeds from roadsides and ditches.

Roads should be checked regularly, especially for potholes and for collapse of the road surface at the sides of the road:

  • Inform the cooperative immediately if the road needs repair work.
  • If the damage is too large, consider hiring local construction workers to carry out the repairs.

Data recording

Every road maintenance activity should be recorded in a logbook as shown in the example below.

Date Time Location Activity Input type Input amount Input costs Labour input Labour costs
People Hours
16/01/13 Whole day Repair village road Gravel 5 trucks 6 8 400000
16/01/13 Whole day Repair village road Truck rent 1 truck


  1. I.R. Rankine, T.H. Fairhurst, Field Handbook: Oil Palm Series, Volume 3 – Mature, second ed., Potash & Phosphate Institute (PPI), Singapore, 1999.


The material from Road maintenance is sourced from Smallholder Oil Palm Handbook and put together by Lotte Suzanne Woittiez (Wageningen Universit) and Haryono Sadikin, Sri Turhina, Hidayat Dani, Tri Purba Dukan, and Hans Smit (SNV) in August 2016. See Module 2: Harvesting, Grading, Transport for more information.

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