Indonesia: Celebrating 25 years of Struggle for Food Sovereignty

October 16th is World Food Day. This reminds that the importance of food to always be available, sufficient, affordable, safe and nutritious at all times for all human beings. In addition, SPI and La Via Campesina commemorate it as Food Sovereignty Day, because on that day 25, October 16, 1996 to be precise, La Via Campesina submitted the Food Sovereignty Concept to FAO, which is currently holding the World Food Summit. The concept of Food Sovereignty is an alternative to the FAO’s Food Security Concept which has failed in overcoming Hunger and poverty and is even today.

Food Security recognized food as a fundamental human right, it did not defend the objective conditions for producing food. Who produces? For Whom? How? Where? And Why? All these questions were absent, and the focus was decidedly on merely “feeding the people”. An overt emphasis on people’s food security ignored the hazardous consequences of industrial food production and factory farming, built on the sweat and labour of migrant workers. Food Sovereignty, on the other hand, presents a radical overhaul. It recognizes people and local communities as the principal actors in the fight against poverty and hunger. It calls for strong local communities and defends their right to produce and consume before trading the surplus. It demands autonomy and objective conditions to use local resources, calls for agrarian reform and collective ownership of territories ( see https://viacampesina.org/en/food-sovereignty-a-manifesto-for-the-future-of-our-planet-la-via-campesina)

In Celebration of the 25 years of Food Sovereignty, Indonesian Peasant Union (Serikat Petani Indonesia -SPI) had organized School of agroecology and Food Sovereignty Area, which held in Bogor, West Java on 27 September -17 October 2021. Previously, the school was held on line in July-August 2021. The school took place in Bogor, West Java, Indonesia, involved dozens of peasant youth of SPI from different provinces in Indonesia. These aimed to produce SPI cadres who are experts in agroecological agricultural practices, cooperatives, and mass organizing to be able to create and manage Food Sovereignty Area after School. In addition, they also received other thematic formation that were in line with SPI’s struggles such as Food and Agroecology Politic, Food Sovereignty, Mass Organizing, UNDROP, Agrarian Reform, Peasant Woman Feminism & Family Farming and other lessons after the formation, they are expected to replicate and transform the experience they got in Bogor to other peasants in their rural areas

Food Sovereignty Area ( FSA) is the SPI concept of an area whose population applies the concept of food sovereignty, through the use of all natural resources of the area in an agroecological and integrated manner by, from, and for the people for the provision of sufficient, safe, healthy and nutritious and sustainable food; and have an impact on the economic development of the region that will prosper its people.

Celebration the Food Sovereignty Day

Celebration of the Food Sovereignty Day was conducted in the school of Agroecology, Bogor on 16 October 2021. The celebration was attended by all participants of the school of Agroecology, Kusnan as head of Centre of Seed of SPI, Qamar as Head of the Centre of study and implementation of Agroecology of SPI and Zainal Arifin Fuad as ICC of La Via Campesina- who gave explanation about history of the day of Food Sovereignty in La Via Campesina linked to some wisdoms from Indonesian culture value and Islamic lessons on the rights to food as well UNDROP. In addition, relationship between Food Sovereignty, Nationalism and class awareness at international level through putting logo/flag of SPI, La Via Campesina and Indonesian Flag.

One of the Indonesian culture values in each of ceremony of celebration is Tumpeng or rice tumpeng is a Javanese dish whose rice is served in a cone shape (like mountain) and arranged together with the side dishes. Processed rice used is generally in the form of yellow rice (rice is cooked and mixed by turmeric – which making rice in yellow colour ). Tumpeng is symbol of People welfare – providing food for people. In the last ceremony, Tumpeng was cut and put on the plate to distribute to all attendance.

Declaration of Food Sovereignty Areas

SPI also celebrates 25 years of the struggle for food sovereignty by declaring another Food Sovereignty Area (FSA) on October 31, 2021, which had previously been declared in several regions last year. This year the Food Sovereignty Areas declared are located in the Provinces of West Sumatra, Jambi and East Java. In the event of declaration, there are four speakers, namely Kusnan Head of National Seed Center of SPI , Herny Saragih as General chairperson of SPI, Zainal Arifin Fuad as representing La Via Campesina and Ageng Herianto representative of FAO Indonesia. This event itself was attended by representatives of SPI peasants from all over Indonesia online via the Zoom application. While in each KDP, it is held offline by inviting the local government, students, academics, and others.

About this declaration, Kusnan said that FSA has several principles. First, the main actors in agriculture are farming families and/or cooperatives and/or the state. Second, land, water and seeds are equally controlled by the people living in the area. Third, agricultural production is carried out on a small scale. Fourth, the agricultural production model uses the agroecological model of agriculture. Fifth, the agricultural post-harvest process is carried out on a small and medium scale. Fifth, the distribution of agricultural products is carried out in close and medium distances and / or local / territory markets.

Henry said that Building the FSA is a part of SPI in struggling for food sovereignty besides influencing public policy. The legal bases of FSA is The Food Law 2012, the Law of The Peasant Protection and Empowerment 2013, The Law of Cooperative 2012, the Law of Horticulture 2010, The Law of Livestock and Health Animal 2009 and the Law of Land protection for sustainable food agriculture 2009 as well as UNDROP as international legal base. While Zainal Arifin Fuad, representing La Via Campesina said that FSA which applies agroecology as its agricultural model is expected to prove agroecology as an alternative to the agricultural model inherited by the green revolution which has proven to be a failure. In addition, FAO already opened the window for Agroecology since 2015 by conducting symposium of Agroecology in 2015- 2019.

Ageng Herianto from FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) Indonesia who was also present at this event appreciated SPI for its very useful initiative to establish and initiate food sovereignty in its member territories. He explained that SPI has contributed to agriculture in Indonesia through the transformation of a more inclusive food system, providing better benefits to peasants. He hopes that this FSA is recorded in detail on its development. He also mentioned new program of FAO called 4better: better production, better nutrition, better environment and better life. Thus, he also hope FSA achieves 4better.

One of SPI’s Food Sovereignty Areas is currently located in Senori Village, Merakurak District, Tuban Regency, East Java. The peasants of Sinori Village are able to meet the food needs of their own families, the food needs of neighbouring villages, to the food needs of other sub-districts. This village is even able to market agricultural products to neighbouring provinces, namely Central Java Province through the Indonesian Peasants Cooperative. Therefore, through this education, it is expected that participants can encourage the birth of new Food Sovereignty Areas and strengthen existing areas. Other FSA are in 3 Provinces, namely West Sumatra, East Java, and Jambi.

This article is available in