World Food Day: Our Turn to Make Farmers Proud

Posted: October 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

Published on Jakarta Globe 16 October 2014

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Do we really concern ourselves with how the rice has ended up on our plate and how it began the journey?  Food is not just to satisfy our hunger, it is also a window to consider the situation of food availability and the condition of Indonesian family farmers.

The celebration of World Food Day today is our reminder to give our attention to the farmer. This group plays a significant role in supporting our daily needs.

However, data from the Central Bureau of Statistic (BPS) shows that the numbers of family farmers in Indonesia is decreasing significantly over the past decade. The country lost more than five million family farmers. Since 2003 the number of family farmers has dropped to only 26.13 million. One of the major factors of farmers leaving the industry is reduced return on their labor.

The agricultural census held by BPS in 2013 found that the average family farmer earns only around Rp 1 million ($80) per month. Their earning is not worth to the risk they bear. There is no support provided for any loss of crop due to pests or extreme weather conditions.

Prof. Dr. Dwi Andreas Santoso from the Bogor Agricultural Institute (IPB) has previously said that more than 50 percent of the 28.55 million poor in Indonesia are family farmers.

Families often lose access to land as it is rare for them to own it. Almost 50 percent of farmers in Java do not have land and rent instead.

The agriculture sector is seen as less lucrative than in the past and struggles to replace farmers exiting the workforce.

The future of the industry becomes a concern when considering the projected growth in Indonesia’s population. The BPS suggests the population will grow up to 273 million in 2025.

Fasli Jalal, chairperson of the National Population and Family Planning Board (BKKBN) says 10,000 babies are born each day in Indonesia, which presents serious questions about food security.

It is a tough job ahead to regain the pride of being a farmer, but it’s necessary to increase the amount of family farmers to help food supply to the country.

This is our call to give the group genuine appreciation.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on World Food Day has chosen the theme Family Farming: “Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth.” The organization invites all elements of society to take serious care of family farmers.

The vulnerable group work hard to contribute to the food supply of the world, yet they are hungry themselves. The FAO noted that over 70 percent of people in rural areas of Asia. Latin America, Africa, and the near East, many of which are family farmers, are still insecure in terms of food.

Therefore, it is our job to support the needs of family farmers. Community development is important to secure their productivity and to transfer simple technology to support their cultivation.

Through that strategy, we hope that it will increase their earnings or at least show them that they are not alone.

For example the Indonesian Biodiversity Foundation (Kehati), in Semau, East Nusa Tenggara, in cooperation with other institutions, taught family farmers the drip irrigation technique.

The farmers had good spirits and keep trying to cultivate even though they are living in very dry area. The community development through learning dripping irrigation technique helped them increase their productivity.

Another example is in Yogyakarta. Kehati encouraged local farmers to again begin cultivating their food source, which is similar to tuber plants.

The foundation developed the program by giving them the capability to add value to their agriculture product through methods such as processing to produce tuber chips or in the packaging aspect.

Through this community development work, it gave the farmer opportunity to earn more.

Rosyid Nurul Hakiim is a communication officer at KEHATI

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