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The development of oil palm cultivation followed very different paths across continents. Originating from Central Africa where palm oil was first collected from the wild in the forest, oil palm has since become a typical agro-industrial crop especially in South-East Asia and Latin America. More recently smallholders have increased their share in the production, while with some differences. Nowadays the problem that the oil palm sector faces is no longer related to either choose agro-industries or smallholders, but to find the best way to associate agro-industries and smallholders in mutually beneficial schemes. Examples from Indonesia, Cameroon and Colombia show the limits and opportunities of such associations.