Universities Sumatra

Transferring knowledge is perhaps our most important strength at Zebra Special Products. We believe a project in a developing country will only be successful if local, knowledgeable communities take over at some point. An example of this cooperative model is the joint project we've undertaken with the universities of northern and southern Sumatra, Indonesia.

Palm oil has a bad reputation: deforestation and damage to local populations. Northern Sumatra asked its government to have us surveyed thirteen palm oil plantations. Zebra came up with an environmentally sound way to produce palm oil, that simultaneously brings a better profit to farmers and makes for a more efficient business.

Work more smartly

We visited the sites in northern Sumatra, devised a plan of action went to business. A new organizational structure, an array of measuring instruments, and training for staff. That amounted to a ten percent increase in plant efficiency.

Lessons in efficiency

To secure the expertise involved in improving the plant, we established a cooperative effort with the University of North-Sumatra in Medan town. Teachers received training in which they learned all about palm oil milling. Today, plant staff in turn receives training at the university to learn how to work efficiently and sustainably. They are made conscious of the effect they can have on the production process. the new measurement instruments makes their influence tangible and visible. Still this university is the only education institute in the region that brings training to mills and plants in the palm oil industry.


After the success in northern Sumatra, we went south. Palembang in southern Sumatra is where our own palm oil mill is located: Palm Pro. Since 2004 Palm Pro has had an agreement with the University of South-Sumatra. Students there run internships until they've mastered (a part of) the process well enough to carry on independently. Gauging oil levels, insights into process technology or taking environment samples: they may learn any or all of these skills. they then share their insights with their classmates.

From Wageningen to Indonesia

In Palembang we went yet a step further and called on the Agricultural Economic Institute of Wageningen University. Researchers at WU visited Palembang and imparted local university members with further knowledge of palm oil refinery. Participants were introduced to European standards of certification for example, and made aware of possibilities for export.

Aanpak universiteiten