Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Indonesian Farmers: Live in Poverty in An Agricultural Country

As we all have already known, our country is an agricultural country. It means that our country is focusing on the productivity of farmers and the quality or quantity of agricultural plants which is cultivated in our country. Our country, Indonesia, has quite a great amount of wet rice field and so forth. Our production in rice and other agricultural plants are not so bad either. But there is one question that is always pronounced, it is about why our farmers still get stuck below the poverty line? If this poverty keeps lingering in Indonesian farmers’ lives, then who will be the next generation of farmers? The children of farmers will suffer hard times in their lives so that they will have no interest in becoming a farmer like their parents. If this is happening, then there will be no regeneration of farmers in our country. This is a very big yet accidentally forgotten problem that happens in our society. In order to be able to fix this problem, we should first identify the factors which cause this problem to happen and after it, try to arrange some solutions regarding this issue.

The first factor is: most of our farmers are only workers that work at other people’s farm. Indonesian farmers’ possession of the field is only 0,3 hectares in Java Island and 0,7 hectares all over Indonesia. Since the farmers are only workers, they can only be paid by the owners. When the harvests are numerous then their salary is not simultaneously increasing because they have a fix amount of wage. Moreover, the profit and wage that can be earned by workers are not as big as the profits that can be earned by the owner itself. That is one of the factors that make our farmers are poor.

The second factor is because even though there are some farmers who owned a field, although it’s not a big field, there are still many problems that weighed them. One of the problems is bad irrigation system. Because of the bad irrigation system, these minor farmers will face problems such as failing in their harvests because of they are lacking of water, and so on. In addition, the farmers also have to buy water pump in case there is a damaged irrigation system. The second problem is the price of fertilizers which is always increasing as year goes on. They should also buy the seeds, and it does not cost little. At one side, those farmers have to increase the budget they spend in growing seeds but the prices of their products are not proportional with their expenses.

Another factor is our country’s dependence toward imported agricultural products. It is said that this country imported a big amount of other country’s agricultural products. Indonesia even opened 70 harbors to accept those products, whereas America, who definitely is not an agricultural country, only opens 3 harbors for other country’s agricultural products. It is such a shame that an agricultural country like us still imported agricultural products from other country. Is our production is still not enough to fulfill the demand of agricultural products? I think actually the answer is no. We do have a lot of products harvested each year, but the quality cannot be compared with imported products. That is why the market still demands for imported agricultural products. In this case, I think the government should minimize the amount of imported agricultural product. More importantly, the government and the farmers should also try to improve the quality of our own products. Of course the people in our country will not want to eat or buy products with bad qualities, right?

As year goes by, there has not been a significant change in farmers’ lives because they are still counted as poor people in our country. Even though the government has already tried to give subsidy for them to buy fertilizers; however, those subsidies are not straightly go to the farmers. It is said that it goes to the producers of fertilizers and seeds. So, it does not bring any direct benefit to the farmers. Yes, it is true that the farmers only have to buy those fertilizers with half of the real price, but I think that price has not been reachable yet for farmers.

Another thing that has been done to make up this poverty of farmers is creating a new system of farming which has been trialed by PT. East West Seed Indonesia. They tried to improve the farmers’ life quality with a new salary system. With this system, the farmers will get profits whenever the company gets more profits. The farmers can also have a discussion with the company owner about the product’s price and where should they sell it. This company also tries to make relationship with supermarkets or hypermarkets so that those farmers’ products can be sold there.

In 2011, the government planned to make a new solution for this problem. It is to give subsidy straight to the farmers themselves. This program is still a plan, so we have not known yet about the result. But I wish it can be a great solution which can save our country’s farmers from poverty.

In my opinion, there are some steps that can be taken. First of all, it is to take merits of the role of education in this country. All of us have always been told since elementary school that our country, Republic of Indonesia, is a big agricultural country. I think the explanation should not be stopped there. The children should also know how to make our country a good agricultural country. It should be taught as an important knowledge for the country’s children, so that they can be motivated to be a professional farmer. We can also give trainings for children and also other students such as junior high school students or high school students about how to be a farmer, so that they can know the food producing process.

Secondly, there are still many tasks that should be done by the government. Those tasks are improving the irrigation system, giving great prices to the seeds, and giving good prices for the products that have been harvested by the farmers. If the selling price is increased, the farmers can get more profit from their farming activity, and they may improve their quality of life.

The poverty problem of Indonesian people is still a very big problem that still cannot be solved. One of the most important problems regarding Indonesian poverty is farmers’ quality of life which results from many factors; however, the most important thing is how to fix it. After we have been aware of this crucial problem, we should give more respect to Indonesian farmers by buying the products they sell, rather than merely leave this problem to be solved by government.

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