Sustainable Oil Palm Farming / Weighing and transportation

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Download: Module 2: Harvesting, Grading, Transport


  • Be able to keep good track of the production per plantation;
  • Know exactly how much is produced, and of what quality;
  • Be able to effectively transport the fresh fruit bunches and loose fruits from the field to the mill as soon as possible;
  • Be able to get optimum oil quantity and quality.


  • The yield of each plantation is recorded separately and clearly;
  • The number of poor-quality bunches is recorded clearly and precisely;
  • Fresh fruit bunches are transported to the mill on the same day as harvesting and no more than 24 hours after harvesting;
  • All fresh fruit bunches arrive at the mill in good condition;
  • No fresh fruit bunches or loose fruits are lost in transport.


  • Usually on the same day as harvesting.
  • Sometimes on the morning after harvesting — but the bunches must arrive at the mill within 24 hours after harvesting.


Once every 7—10 days, depending on the harvesting frequency.

Labour time required

  • Weighing individually: 30 minutes per field;
  • Weighing as cooperative: one morning or afternoon per kelompok;
  • Transport time (and therefore labour requirement) depends on the distance to the mill and the road condition.

Equipment and materials

Figure 8: Hanging scales for weighing the bunches. If available, strong digital scales are more precise.
  • Weighing and yield recording:
- Tripod with hanging scales (see Figure 8);
- Tray or net to hold the fresh fruit bunches and the loose fruits;
- Notebooks and stationary.
  • Transport from the field to the collection place:
- Car or motorbike with carrying baskets.
  • Transport from the collection place to the mill:
- Good truck;
- Net to cover the truck;
- Loading hooks or stakes;
- Buckets or empty fertiliser bags for loose fruits (see Figure 7).


  • Weighing and yield recording:
- Farmers and their family; or
- Assigned members of the cooperative; or
- Trader/middleman, closely supervised by the farmer.
  • Transport from the field to the collection place (if necessary):
- Farmers and their family or hired labourers.
- Transport from the collection place to the mill:
- Truck crew;
- Trader/middleman.


Sorting and weighing harvested fresh fruit bunches

Step 1. Count the total number of bunches.
Step 2. Check each bunch to make sure it is good quality and note the number of ‘bad bunches’ according to the categories below (see Section 3):
  • Unripe
  • Underripe
  • Overripe
  • Empty
  • Damaged (e.g. by rats, fungus, etc.)
  • Too small
  • Dura (if present)

Cut off any remaining long stalks (a waste of money!) and remove fresh fruit bunches that are too bad to sell (e.g. empty, very unripe).

Step 3. Weigh all the fresh fruit bunches harvested in the plantation (including the bad bunches that can still be sold) and write down the total weight of the bunches.
Step 4. Weigh the loose fruits and record the total weight.
Step 5. Record in a notebook:
  • Total number of fresh fruit bunches (Step 1);
  • Number of ‘bad bunches’ per category (Step 2);
  • Total weight of fresh fruit bunches (Step 3);
  • Total weight of loose fruit (Step 4).

Ensure the record includes farmer name, date, time, and the field that was harvested.

Operating cooperative collection areas

Figure 9: A cooperative collection area.

If the cooperative sells the fresh fruit bunches directly to the mill, it may establish ‘collection areas’ where member farmers with nearby plantations can deliver their fresh fruit bunches once every 10 days (see Figure 9). In the collection area, bunches are sorted and weighed.

The cooperative should assign members who are responsible for the activities in the collection area and should provide all the tools required for the weighing and recording activities (such as scales and notebooks).

Transport of fresh fruit bunches from the plantation to the cooperative collection area is usually by car or motorbike. It can be useful if farmers mark their fresh fruit bunches before transporting them to the collection area.

Selling to traders or middlemen

When selling directly to traders or middlemen it is important to:

  • Keep clear personal records of the total number of fresh fruit bunches, the number of ‘bad’ bunches, the total bunch weight and the loose fruit weight;
  • Be present when the weighing and sorting takes place in order to be sure about the results.

Just relying on the records of the trader or middleman is not a good idea, because it is important to know exactly how much was produced and earned.

Transporting fresh fruit bunches from the collection area to the mill

Figure 10: Neatly loaded truck, but the load is too high and should have been covered with a net.

Transport to the mill is generally arranged through the cooperative or the middleman. If transport is arranged individually, then the farmer needs to carry out all activities which are usually the responsibility of the cooperative. If transport is arranged by a middleman, then it is not the responsibility of the farmer.

Step 1. Purchase or hire good trucks. Check trucks regularly for issues that need repair. Hire truck staff along with the truck or arrange in the cooperative.
Step 2. Stack fruit bunches into the truck carefully and neatly (see Figure 10). Place loose fruits in the middle of the truck so they are not lost during transport.
Step 3. Discard fresh fruit bunches that cannot be sold (e.g. empty, rotten). Cut remaining long stalks to less than 2 cm before loading.
Step 4. When the truck is full, place a cover net over the load to ensure safety and prevent loss of fresh fruit bunches. Note: net covers are mandatory by law in Indonesia.
Step 5. Ensure the fresh fruit bunches are transported to the mill on the same day, or at the latest at the beginning of the following day (within 24 hours from harvest to mill).

Data recording

Date Farmer Field Total
Number of bad bunches
Damaged Unripe Under-
Empty Small Dura
16/01/13 2 1 60 900 20 5 3 1 1 1 0 0


The material from Weighing and transportation 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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