Sabtu, 17 Desember 2011


By: Mr. Suharyo Husen
Chairman, Indonesian Cassava Society (ICS)

Farmers in ASEAN generally are small farmers with limited land holder for their farming. There are living in rural areas with other rural community . Their education are relatively low, pliminary school up to secondary high school. There are very limited graduated from university.
The income of the farmers in ASEAN Countries are most relatively low, some times difficult to meet the family needs, such for food, cloths, education, etc.

Asean Farmers Asosiation (AEA) :
AFA( Asean Farmers Asosiation ) is a regional alliance of farmer federations and organizations in eight countries in East Asia, representing ten million farmers. As a regional organization, its aim to be:
1. an advocacy group on farmers’ rights and development, at national, regional And international levels
2. facilitator of our members’ commercial activities
3. a venue for solidarity and exchange

The members are in Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. The organization hopes to expand its membership to other East and South Asia countries in the next three years.

Farmers’ Situation and Issues
  1. Asia is the world’s largest and most populous continent, with more than 60% of total human population. It is the largest consumer of rice; it has the most extensive forestry and fishery resources as well.
  2. The farming population in Southeast Asia is on the average 40-80%, as compared to Europe, which has only 5% farming population, and US, 1.7%.
  3. As of 2002, the population of poor people or those who earn less than US$ 1/day is 1.2 billion, of which 75% (or 900M people) is found in the rural areas, and in which 600M people alone are found in rural South Asia.
  4. The poverty situation in ASEAN countries (2002) range from 32% in Thailand up to 77.7% in Cambodia, mainly from the rural areas.
  5. The typical farmer in East and South Asia is : small scale, subsistence farmer , working on lands less than 2 hectares , either a man or a woman.
  6. The Farmers main problems are:
  • a. lack of access and control over natural resources, mainly land and water. If farmers do not own the lands for their farming , farmers cannot decide on how best to use them for their own benefit. Farmers will remain to be poor however big the income from the farm will be, as much of the income go to the landowners.
  • b. insecure incomes and massive displacement due to global agricultural trade liberalization. Advocates of free trade promised development to developing countries. But our experience in the ten years of implementation of WTO, and ASEAN economic integration through free trade, say that this is not so. The rules of global agricultural trade are unfair. It is like Sumo wrestling where one contestant weighs 200 kilos, and the other, just 50 kilos. Agricultural products from the developed countries are heavily subsidized, thus they are sold cheaper in our markets. Governments of developing countries subsidize very little, if at all. We can hardly compete. The entry of cheap agricultural products in our countries have lowered our incomes and made us more insecure. Many of us have lost our livelihoods.
  • c. food security risks We are asked to plant export crops – asparagus, cut flowers, etc. But many of us are afraid to do this, because we do not know how to plant them, we don’t have the capital, and we don’t know where to sell them. We want to plant staple crops because at least we will be assured we will have something to eat. If our countries will depend on imports for even our staple food, like rice, chicken and vegetables, what will happen to us if suddenly there is shortage of supply from them? Even if we will have the money, we will go hungry.
  • d. increasing dependence on big national and transnational agribusiness corporations -Agriculture technologies being promoted by governments rely more and more on seeds, systems, inputs produced and sold by big agribusiness corporations.
  • e. climate change – We are becoming more and more vulnerable to global climate change. We still do not know how we can cope us with the effects of global warming in our farms and communities.
  • f. inadequate government support to agriculture, specially to small men and women farmers- We find governments’ inadequate support
  • g. weak organization of farmer’s groups and representation in government decision making bodies – except in Vietnam and Korea, only 10-20% of farmers are organized , able to put a significant number of people in government offices.

Our Bases of Unity
Farmers’ organizations came together in AFA to promote an 8-point peasant agenda, which includes:
  1. promote sustainable agricultural policies and practices
  2. study and promote alternatives to globalization
  3. promote agriculture towards the young
  4. promote fair and just treatment of farmers in developing countries
  5. promote food security measures to small farmers
  6. promote farmer-to-farmer market exchanges
  7. push for an ASEAN provision on access to farm resources, and rural development and protection of human rights
  8. strengthen AFA at national and regional levels, so it becomes able to participate in international development processes.
Current Efforts in Advocacy and On-Ground Projects
In promoting the above agenda, one of our strategic aims is to influence key inter-governmental regional and international decision-making bodies on common agricultural issues affecting small men and women farmers, namely:
a. ASEAN economic integration, including ASEAN charter and FTAs with various countries
b. GATT-WTO-AoA /Doha Round
c. FAO – for pro small farmer policies and programs and support to on-ground SA projects
d. IFAD Farmers’ Forum – for genuine representation of farmers in agricultural policies and programs , and for support for capacity building work and on-ground poverty alleviation projects
e. WB – for more pro-small farmer agricultural framework and policies We also would like to be actively involved in discussions about climate change and bio-fuels, as these emerging issues are likely to impact seriously on us.

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