Indonesia’s Farming Conundrum

As the government of Indonesia continues to plan a large agricultural estate in the middle of Kalimantan (where a previous one planned during the 1980’s under President Suharto failed), a steep drop in those engaged in farming is causing concern. The country lost 5.1 million farmers between 2003 and 2013, with their numbers falling to 26 million, according to Statistics Indonesia (BPS). The trend is expected to continue in the next few years. At this rate, Indonesia would lose all its farmers by 2063. “A large proportion of young people view agricultural work as low-wage, manual labor that is more suited to those from poor backgrounds who have limited education,” a 2016 SMERU Research Institute report reads. Only 23 percent of the country’s 14.2 million people aged between 15 and 24 worked in the agriculture, forestry and fishery sectors in 2019, data from the National Labor Force Survey showed. Bucking these trends are startups focused on strategic lending and technology to increased yields. Furthermore, infrastructure investments in rural roads, electricity, cell phone towers, markets, cold chains and processing facilities are crucial element to the effort. (Jakarta Post)