Conversion of agricultural land continues so it increasingly threatens the national food security system. In 2013, agricultural land conversion reached 63,600 hectares, and is projected to reach 800,000 hectares by 2020. The conversion of agricultural land is, amongst others, the area of fertile agricultural land is diminishing, agricultural production, particularly food, in the long-term is threatened, farmers lost their jobs, unemployment and poverty occurred, urbanization increases, it encourages deforestation, and displaces local civilization.
Head of the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), Suryamin, in Jakarta on Thursday (October 17) said that conversion in Indonesia is very alarming. Farmland conversion has an impact on the number of farmers. BPS noted that number agricultural household (RT) in Indonesia has decreased 5.04 million family heads in the past 10 years. Based on the 2003 Agricultural Census, in 2003 there were 31.17 millions of agricultural households. Meanwhile, based on the 2013 Agricultural Census (ST 2013), the number was found to be 26.13 million households.
Suryamin said that in economics, the more developed a country is, the community will shift from agriculture to commerce, industry and services. Nevertheless, he hopped that there is an attempt to address the decline in agricultural land and businesses. Each year, there is an average decrease of 1.75% of agricultural households in Indonesia. Ten years ago, 57.48% of agricultural business exist in Java. Now, only 51.38%. By percentage, DKI Jakarta province experienced the highest decrease, i.e. 7.65% per year, while the lowest decrease is experienced by Bengkulu at 0.12%. “The land conversion is very worrying,” said Suryamin.
Meanwhile, Indonesian NGOs for Global Justice (IGJ) stated that agricultural liberalization has resulted in many community farmlands to decline because they are replaced by industrial plants. Open and unequal competition causes the decline in community agricultural lands due to industrial activities. Executive Director of IGJ, M Riza Damanik, reminded that in Indonesia alone, there are approximately 100,000 hectares of agricultural land being converted every year. Moreover, according to him, liberalization is believed to cause the marginalization of local agricultural products in the domestic market by imported products.
Liberalization is also believed to keep away the achievement of food sovereignty of a country and replace it with the expansion of foreign private sector involvement through the instruments of public private partnerships (PPP) and food certificates. To that end, the government was urged to protect the domestic market from trade and investment liberalization.
Additionally, biong or intermediaries, community leaders, and government officials are also one of the main actors of agricultural land conversion that increasingly threatens national food security. It is said that boing, community leaders and government officials often become intermediaries to approach the owners of agricultural land so they would sell their assets. They often become investors’ accomplice to smoothen their business, including for obtaining land.
In addition to biong, internal factors that lead farmers to sell their land is there is a pressing need, farmers were promised to continue working on the land although the land has been sold, farming motivation has declined, the influence of liberalization environment, and the lure of income from outside agriculture sector. In addition, there are external factors faced by farmers to sell their farmlands, such as development policy, rational expectation, political economy which is not pro agriculture, market condition warfare, network, monopolies, liberalization and land rent, up to cultural factors.
Business News - October 21, 2013