The government has an important role here as policymaker. One reason for farmers’ low income is lack of fair trade in agriculture. Farmers bear a high risk for a long time, but they receive the least profit compared to others in the distribution chain to consumers.
Government policies that provide special incentives to young farmers will help change young people’s perception of farming.
Improving access to agricultural land and credit, expanding networks and information, and strengthening the capacity of young farmers will promote a more profitable, interesting and promising business to them.
Young people also consider that working in the agricultural sector is physically demanding. Technology is the best chance of addressing the problem.
Agricultural universities and research institutions are well advised to make technology development for agriculture a high priority.
On the production side, this technology would facilitate the physical work carried out on the land and improve efficiency, cutting production costs and increasing profit margins.
A fairer deal
The agricultural-development paradigm treats farmers as objects. Policies are results-oriented and do not consider the impact on farmers.
Farmers play a key role in food production. Empowering them is vital. This includes building and increasing technical competence.
Technology use by Indonesian farmers varies greatly, from very traditional to partly modernized to modern. Participation and access to resources is a crucial aspect of agricultural development.
If farmers do not have sufficient capacity to use technology, then technology is worthless, regardless of how sophisticated it is.
Empowered farmers will become agile farmers, able to adapt to rapid changes in climate as well as changes in social, trade and political life.
Civil society and farmers associations do important work to empower farmers, but they need government support to have a big impact.
“Empowered farmers will become agile farmers.”
A workforce shift from agriculture to other sectors will not endanger food security if it is compensated for by two factors: the significant improvement of farmers’ skills; and the application of appropriate technology.
Developed countries that have a low percentage of farmers and produce enough food for their population show what can be achieved.
The government can support the food management system to become more resilient amid changing circumstances so farmers get a fair reward for their work.
Government policy can also ensure that agricultural industry players collaborate with farmers. It can support a system for the utilization and development of technology that promotes the health of the industry and farmers’ welfare.
Farmers’ knowledge is the backbone of agricultural development in Indonesia.
With government support, enhanced technology and the assistance of farmer organizations, coming generations of Indonesian farmers can become fully empowered to navigate future challenges.
Suryo Wiyono is head of Gerakan Petani Nusantara, a nationwide farmers organization in Indonesia, and Vice Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture at IPB University, Bogor, Indonesia.