Agriculture and Poverty in Indonesia

In Indonesia, small farm holdings and a lack of capital are proving to be major obstacles in the fight against poverty.

In East Java, Indonesia, the minimum wage is USD 250, but farmers there receive less than USD 40 . That’s common among farmers in Indonesia, especially for those in food production. That’s of major concern for Muhammad Rifai , head of Production Planning and Business at the Association of Farmer in Indonesia (AFI),  who is himself a farmer.

Being a farmer in Indonesia is not that easy as most farmers own less than 0.5ha land.

“The areas are too small, even if they try to catch up with current innovations in agriculture,” he told those meeting at the High Level Policy Dialogue on Investment in Agricultural Research for Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific on Tuesday.

A lack of capital also means farmers have difficulty keeping up date with the technology. “Innovation leads to new seeds, new fertilizer but that puts more burden on the farmers.”

But the main problem is that the land available for farming is so limited.  Almost 14 million farmers own 0.5 ha land, and 25 million people own the land between 0.5 – 1 ha, he said.

Farmers in Cambodia and Thailand, on average, have 2 ha areas and those in Vietnam have 3ha areas.

Mr Rifai welcomes research that will capture the relationship between land reform and increased productivity from farmers. “It will be a good basis for farmers in Indonesia to prove this relationship using scientific data. Although it still a major challenge, the government of Indonesia has launched regulation [that will assist] Indonesian farmers,” he said.

It takes time to see the results from agricultural research, which makes it difficult to attract skilled people and funding, a point that was reinforced in the session by Kundhavi Kadiresan, a Member of the Advisory Committee, and ADG, FAO-RAP.

“There is a competition between funding for agricultural research and subsidy programs in this region,” she said.

Blogpost by Alfi Syakila, #GCARD3 Social Reporter – alfi.syakila(at)
Picture courtesy Jan-Pieter Nap

This post is part of the live coverage during the #GCARD3 Regional Consultation for Asia and Pacific region. This post is written by one of our social reporters, and represents the author’s views only.

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