PALMOILMAGAZINE, JAKARTA – For the past 63 years, Indonesia has observed National Farmer’s Day, yet smallholder farmers continue to struggle for control over their own lives. In stark contrast, Chapter 33, Article 3 of the 1945 Constitution states that the land, water, and all natural resources within the country’s borders are to be managed by the nation for the greater prosperity of its people.
According to data published by the Agrarian Reform Consortium (KPA), there were 212 instances of agrarian conflicts in 2022, encompassing a total area of 1,035,613 hectares across 459 villages and cities, involving 346,402 families.
This marked an increase from the 207 conflicts recorded in 2021. The situation has taken a turn for the worse in 2023. In September 2023, the National Human Rights Commission reported a staggering 692 incidents of such conflicts in various regions of Indonesia over the past eight months.
These conflicts have primarily arisen due to the development of national strategic projects (PSN) and the issuance of permits in the plantation, mining, and energy sectors. Recently, the government drew widespread attention by forcibly acquiring land in Pulau Rempang and Galang for the proposed PSN Rempang Eco City project.
This led to conflicts, culminating in the arrest of 28 local residents who were fighting for their land rights.
“It was revealed that three farmers were arrested because of area conflict between villagers of Pakel and PT. Bumi Sari,” Chairman of Seriat Petani Kelapa Sawit (SPKS) Mamuju, Supriadi said, as in the official statement to Palmoilmagazine.com, Tuesday (26/9/2023).
In its context in West Sulawesi Province itself, he continued, precisely in District of Pasangkayu in March 2023, five smallholders of Kabuyu were arrested at Pasangkayu Police because of area conflict between the local people and palm oil plantation company, PT. Mamuang.
Meanwhile, Wahana Lingkungan Hidup (Walhi) noted that since 2017, PT. Mamuang has been the subsidiary of PT. Astra Agro Lestari Tbk (the second biggest palm oil plantation company in Indonesia) and does criminal to seven smallholders who fought for their rights on land when palm oil investments happen massively.
“This means agrarian conflicts in national scale and in West Sulawesi are the evidences that the government has no partisanship to manage or deliver solution on agrarian conflicts but in the contrary, the government has partisanship to corporates,” he said.
The government’s partisanship to corporates than to people in land mastery is reinforced by the report of Walhi in September 2022 that delivered notes which contained that the country allocated 36,8 million hectares for the corporate and for the people just laid about 3,1 million hectares in Indonesia. It means, about 92% the country allocated 92% of the areas for the corporates and only 8% for the people.
“For we are commemorating the anniversary of West Sulawesi Province with our spirit, we should be aware of everything discussed above to encourage the government to solve every root of agrarian conflict in this province, both in education, health, criminal, and sexual abuse, and the practices of corruption, collusion, and nepotism in West Sulawesi,” Supriadi said. (T2)