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Farmers' union accuses govt of failing to achieve food sovereignty

Tempo - January 19, 2024

Adinda Jasmine Prasetyo, Jakarta – The Indonesian Farmers Union (SPI) accused the government of failing to pursue food sovereignty as rice imports continue to rise every year. The SPI chairman Henry Saragih highlighted the country's heavy reliance on imports for food.

"For rice, [the government] imports 3.3 million tons in 2023, which is the largest rice import by the government in the last 25 years since 1998," Henry said in a Focus Group Discussion, as quoted from SPI's written statement on Thursday, January 18.

He noted that food imports have been going on since 1998, especially after the signing of the Letter of Intent (LoI) with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which encouraged Indonesia to open markets for food from abroad, such as rice, wheat flour, sugar, garlic, beef, and others.

The Job Creation Law has also increased food imports, harming the farmers. "This law annuls various regulations that previously benefited farmers. "If this situation (food imports) continues, it will lead to the bankruptcy of farmers in Indonesia," Henry stressed.

Dwi Andreas, an academic from the Bogor Agricultural Institute (IPB) and the chairman of the Indonesian Farmers' Seed Bank and Agricultural Technology Association (AB2TI), also pointed out that the government's rice import plan for 2024 had no solid basis.

"The government argues that the situation is abnormal due to the El Nino phenomenon. This continues to be repeated by the government, although according to climate data in 2024, [the climate situation] will return to normal this year," Andreas revealed.

The SPI was set to take to the streets today, January 19, to express their rejection of the planned rice import at the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Food Agency. The rally would be a form of protest against government policies that are seen as detrimental to farmers and damaging to Indonesia's food sovereignty.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1823101/farmers-union-accuses-govt-of-failing-to-achieve-food-sovereignt