Watch the BBC documentary based on our joint ‘plasma’ investigation

Meet the Sumatran indigenous tribe who gave up their land and now live in poverty

Our investigation with BBC News and Mongabay delved into ‘plasma’ - a scheme that was supposed to help lift Indonesian villagers out of poverty by giving them a portion of oil palm plantations. 

We estimated that communities are losing hundreds of millions of dollars every year because plantation companies are not meeting legal obligations to share the spoils from the palm oil boom. Dissatisfaction among communities who allege companies have reneged on their promises is driving protests across the country.

BBC News Indonesia’s 30 minute documentary based on our joint investigation takes viewers into Sumatra to meet the Suku Anak Dalam, a tribe who gave up their land two decades ago in the expectation of receiving their own part of an oil palm plantation. They waited in vain for two decades. Many of them now live in poverty in ramshackle huts, and scrape together a living picking up fruitlets that fall to the ground as the palm oil is harvested.

The BBC’s reporters also visit Teluk Bakung, in West Kalimantan on the island of Borneo. There, villagers successfully sued a palm oil company for violating an agreement obligating it to share profits with them. Their court win came only after several villagers had been jailed for protesting against the company.

The film also features interviews with politicians and industry representatives, exploring the underlying causes of a problem afflicting thousands of Indonesian families. Footage from protests driven by anger over the plasma scheme paint a vivid picture of the human toll it is taking.

Watch Janji plasma dari 'buah emas' below. Note that English subtitles are available.