Dec 7, 2006

land question: access to the land

In responding to Peter Timmer in Jakarta Post (here), I would comment on his point on the lack of agriculture land. Since the debate of rice economy mainly discusses who should play a role in food policy, the market or the state? Let step aside from it and look back to farmer’s household having tiny plot of land. What is wrong with that? It is argued that small plot brings lower yield regardless the productivity probably be higher with advance investment. It is true though. But this is not the farmers’ fault having small plot of land.

The land has been distributed bias toward large capitalist farmers. Since they have more resources (capital, labor etc), they are able to accumulate the land and leaving other peasants with small plot of land. Many peasants are also left from agriculture sector and becoming rural wage labor (see Lenin)

My point is the access to the land is still problematic coupled with imperfect information and interlinked market. Some poor farmers do have a dream to enlarge their holding but then they don’t have enough access to credit for buying more land. The same happens whenever they want to improve land productivity but then the input market is not farmers’ friendly. Since the farmers are poor, the increased cost would be covered by loan from someone else’s pocket (usually money lender, often large holding landlords).

Instead of playing with the price, first, land distribution must be worked out. Some people are reluctant to this idea since it sounds as communist approach. Well, I can say our government starts doing this too (here). So does our government turn to be communist?

so if we want to improve the welfare of the poor farmers but they do have tiny plot, why dont we give them the land for doing farming?

2 comments:

yudo said...

Indonesia is too late for doing land reform, particularly in Java. Moreover, the outcome is uncertain and unsustainable politically. It is also unfeasible geographically and by ecosystem terms, since the soil is varied significantly among region.

Another problem, agricultural productivity has been of main issues. Geertz in his book "Agricultural Involution" indicates that low productivity has persisted for long period.

would land reform change much this situation? i dont think so :D

pelantjong maja said...

i think it depends on political will of the government. similarly, the state halted the running program of land reform during transition to new order government.
in respond to technical feasibility, i d argue that implementing any policies (not only for land reform), it should be based on proper research and adequate data, in this case: determining which and whose land. having said that, certain types of land and location might be eligible for being distributed. i am not going into details but my point is this policy is the same as the other policy eg. conditional cash tranfer or the others. the problem with this policy is just it gets a negative impression so people might be reluctant to accept this idea. so lets clean it up so it will be as neutral as of the other policy.