Securing Access to Food by Stopping Land Grabbing

Although global food production actually enough to feed every people of the world, but in 2011 there are at least 1 billion children, women, and men are forced to sleep in hungry stomach. Extreme drought combined with the political failure and poor security situation threatens at least 12 million people in Sub-Saharan region.

However, according to the report World Disaster Report 2011, of 925 million people worldwide who suffer from hunger, about 62% or about 578 million of whom live in the Asia Pacific region which currently the center of world economic growth. The number of hunger in the Asia Pacific was two times greater than the number of people in Sub-Saharan region.

The majority of people are starving rural population who should be the center of food production. Based on the Foresight Project report (2011), half of the world’s food-insecure population, three-quarters of children suffering from malnutrition in Africa, and the majority of the population living in extreme poverty is a small-scale food farmers.

Hunger in urban areas is also reported to have increased. In the World Disaster Report 2010 reported approximately 4.1 million urban poor in Kenya classified as “highly food insecure”. Skyrocketing world food prices, particularly since 2008 until now, estimated to increase the rate of hunger in cities across the globe.

The case of hunger is not only dominated by poor countries and developing countries. In the WDR 2011 declared about 19 million inhabitants in high income countries are also having problems with hunger. In 2010 for example, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a funding of $ 68 million through a program of ‘food stamp’ to reach 40 million people who indicated starvation.

Number of patients with malnutrition is estimated to far greater. At this time, an estimated one billion people suffer from malnutrition, lack of vitamins, and minerals. In addition, 1.5 million of whom suffer from overnutrition and obesity in the long run will experience health problems, such as heart disease, various types of cancer, to diabetes. Now, the risk of obesity not only in high income countries or medium, but began also experienced poor countries.

Land Grabbing

One of the factors that exacerbate the vulnerability of the world in terms of food is the intensification of land-grabbing on a global scale. Oxfam report, since 2001 till now, 227 million hectares-one-half times the size of Alaska has been forced to sell or lease-force in other words “seized” by the investors of the world food industry. This figure has not been coupled with an area of land confiscated for the construction of physical infrastructure.

Uniquely, the driving factors of land grabbing in various parts of the world is the prediction of increased demand for food commodities on a large scale, which was allegedly the cause of the food price crisis in 2008. The analysis says global food prices rose 26% last year. Analysts also expect food commodities will continue to skyrocket. Cause, the need to double food production by 70 percent to anticipate the surge in the number of people expected to reach 9.3 billion in 2050, of the estimated 6.9 billion in 2010.

China, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia are the most keen countries to invest for control of fertile agricultural land in various parts of the world, including Indonesia. One of the investment projects of large-scale food farming is Merauke Integrated Food Farm estate which originally wanted a family-owned company funded Bin Laden.

One of the implications of increased investment in large scale farming sector, which the majority reached through land seizures, can be seen from the condition of stricken Ethiopia, one of the countries in the horn of Africa is currently experiencing famine.

Between 2006 to 2009, Saudi investors are spent $100 million to the Government of Ethiopia to lease the land to be planted with wheat, barley, and rice, which must then be exported to Saudi with duty-free. For the Saudis, to invest in fertile land with adequate irrigation in Ethiopia is much more efficient than alter his own barren desert into productive agricultural areas.

Then what about Ethiopia? In 2009, The World Food Programme (WPF) has spent $300 million to bring 460 thousand metric tons of food to assist 5.7 million people of Ethiopia who need food assistance. With this data, logically, Ethiopia experienced a loss three times the amount of investment they receive.

Why large-scale agricultural investment industry worsened the vulnerability of access to food? The answer, first, target deprivation is a fertile land close to water sources which actually has been largely cultivated by traditional small-scale farmers. Land grabbing is not only getting rid of traditional small-scale farmers from their land, but also get rid of their main food source of the million poor families

Second, land grabbing has destroyed local food production systems. Like many cases that can be found in several regions in Indonesia, the expansion of oil palm plantations or large-scale food industry, narrowing the area cultivated for tillers-switching. They were forced to change the agricultural system, from farm-to move into agriculture-settled.

Changes in farming systems causing great difficulties for small scale farmers. The high cost of production for the intensification of land led to not a few farmers who went bankrupt, lost land, and is heavily in debt to moneylenders. This condition will be much worse if it happened among ethnic minority communities.

Third, the expansion of large-scale food farming industry, causing the loss of the social aspect of food products. Food products produced by large-scale food industry are purely commodity that can only be accessed by way of purchase. This differs from the system of traditional small-scale food farming, in which only a portion of the agricultural products that will be sold, because some are stored as reserve food in the family barn.

Sustainable

What about Indonesia? Although not as bad as conditions in the Horn of Africa or in India, but hunger, whether caused by drought and extreme poverty, is a threat that cannot be underestimated by Indonesia. At this time, we are reminded by the news about the threat of drought and famine that occurred in the province of NTT. But the threat is not only potentially occur NTT, for poverty is not resolved properly, the threat of starvation will always live.

The current economic situation demanded the government to change the strategy, the conventional approach which pays attention only to the supply and demand, had to be abandoned. As reported to FAO, food supply increases, but the price is also down. If it continues to import, food inflation will erode the government’s fiscal resilience.

Therefore, inevitably, the government should be able to find food and agricultural policy strategies that are effective, efficient, independent, inclusive and sustainable. In addition, the government also claimed to be more courageous people to secure access to food by preventing large-scale agricultural expansion, especially that carried out by violent means. The government also claimed to be more daring side to create policies more favorable to the peasants who ironically has always lived in a state which is too difficult.***