The Food Estate Project: Understanding Food Politics in Indonesia
This study by WALHI Central Kalimantan aims to address several main issues related to the food estate project, including; (1) whether the project will benefit the people or is it intended to serve other interests, (2) the extent of local community involvement in the project, especially farmers living in food estate designation areas who are directly or indirectly affected by the project development, (3) rules and rights that should be respected, (4) whose interests does the food estate project actually serve.
The world is facing a crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Indonesian government should use the global crisis as a momentum to change the direction of economic policies that have been exploitative with no regard for the environment’s carrying capacity. One example of such policies is food industrialization. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has warned that the emergence of zoonotic diseases can be caused by agricultural intensification, industrialization, and the destruction of forests and lands. In Indonesia, we can see that the practice of destroying nature is carried out massively by extractive industries, ignoring the carrying capacity of the environment.
Instead of responding to the threat of food crisis and overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic, the government has initiated policies that will increasingly threaten the safety of the community and the environment. Under the pretext of the threat of a food crisis, the Jokowi government launched a food estate project in several provinces in Indonesia, including Central Kalimantan, as part of the National Strategic Projects (PSN) touted through the Job Creation Law.
WALHI Central Kalimantan and Pantau Gambut feel it necessary to have a comprehensive understanding of the food estate projects from various aspects, including legal, environmental, economic, and political aspects. Furthermore, the perspective of affected communities, i.e., those living in areas that are designated by the project as national food reserves, should be taken into account.
This report is a summary of the studies and investigations conducted in the field, where the food estate project is analyzed in the context of national food politics, and how it relates to the global political economy as a whole.