In the beginning of October 2018, the second transdisciplinary workshop organized by IndORGANIC was held in Bogor, West-Java. Our research team shared and discussed first findings and insights with participants from government and non-government organisations, farmers and activists, concerned consumers and academics from all over Java.
On July 2, 2018 the Consul General of the Republic of Indonesia, Mr. Toferry Primanda Soetikno, visited the University of Passau at the invitation of Prof. Dr. Martina Padmanabhan and Prof. Dr. Monika Arnez (Chair of Comparative and Cultural Studies - Focus Southeast Asia).
The Consul General gave an interesting talk on 'The Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in Indonesia'. He explained the special circumstances in Indonesia’s diverse archipelagic state, and emphasized the interrelation of objectives like poverty reduction, environmental protection, sustainable economic growth, and open education.
The Consul General also affirmed his commitment to continue and intensify the long-term, fruitful cooperation between Indonesia and Germany. He held out the perspective of reinforcing inter-university cooperation, including mutual student exchange, joint research and guest professorships.
After his vivid talk, the Consul General discussed questions related to sustainable development with students from the Bachelor and Master program. Besides a collaborative music performance of German and Indonesian students, Master students from the Development Studies Program presented a poster on the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).
The beginning of December witnessed the first transdisciplinary workshop organized by IndORGANIC research project in Yogyakarta. More than 50 participants from government and non-government organisations, farmers and activists, concerned consumers and academicians from all over Java came together to share their perspectives and experiences on the state of organic farming on Java. It was inaugurated by Rektor Prof. Dr. Sri Nurhartanto from Universitas Atma Jaya Yogyakarta. Prof. Martina Padmanabhan and Prof. Michael Grimm, both University Passau, Germany introduced the research project IndORGANIC, that aims at understanding the potentials and obstacles of transforming current agriculture into one operating with the limits of sustainability. Pursuing a transdisciplinary approach means to engage with relevant practitioners, learn from their insights and jointly create knowledge and policy recommendation. This highly interactive workshop was the first in a series of three, seeking to understand the current situation, while simultaneously building a community catering to the research results.
In her keynote speech Dr. Suraya Afiff Universitas Indonesia discussed the history of the evolution of the government policy related to agriculture for food security purpose and the changing role of the state in supporting small-holder and agriculture in general. Political change in Indonesia in the late 1990s and the decentralization policy shaped the way policy on agriculture has been implemented today. Indonesia was a pioneering country to pass a policy to eliminate the government subsidies on pesticides and it was among the first country that implemented the Integrated Pest Management to reduce the use of pesticides. Indonesia democratic transition, unfortunately, had an unexpected effect on such farsighted agriculture policy and it did not stay when power relations between actors in the national and local government significantly changed. Dr Afiff highlighted the opportunities as well as challenges in promoting sustainable agriculture in Indonesia in the near future.
The interactive performance “Memory of Nature” by Artist Arahmaiani opened the participatory workshop by engaging all stakeholders in jointly creating mandalas out of seeds, thus urging people to communicate, share ideas and agree on design and procedure. Four very distinct mandalas emerged, representing different aspects of human-nature relations and reflecting the diverse composition of groups. This stimulating exercise brought participants together in a creative, enjoyable endeavor and set the tone for the further exchanges on ideologies, economic conditions and the institutional structure of organic farming on Java.
The many meanings of Organic Farming were revealed, when debating motivations and belief systems moving farmers, consumers and policymakers alike. Three clusters of concerns emerged out of the interactive exercise: While environmental concerns clearly dominated the reasons to engage in organic farming, health issues as well as organic farming being part of a certain life-style formed a topic for further elaboration.
Economic and marketing aspects of organic farming were central to exercises in small groups. The focus of this session was on whether organic farming is profitable and economically sustainable and under what conditions. The barriers towards economic viable organic farming were at the centre of interactive methods. On the other hand, participants discussed the hopes and aspirations related to organic farming. This included questions regarding the consumers of the future, his and her characteristics and demands. Furthermore, participants discussed the issue of access and whether organic products will be affordable for all or represent a healthy lifestyle only within reach for well-off people.
A final net-map exercise (https://netmap.wordpress.com/) aimed to identify the current institutional landscape and missing links in organic farming by identifying involved actors from different sectors, their linkages in regard to access to inputs and knowledge and the perceived influence of actors. A rich network of organisations, government and non-governmental institutions and key figures emerged to unravel gaps and possible future strategies.
The next transdisciplinary IndORGANIC workshop “Obstacles” is scheduled for the first week of October 2018 to be held at IPB in Bogor, Indonesia.
In April 2017, the Passau IndORGANIC team travelled to Indonesia to meet with the partners in Indonesia from the University of Atma Yaya (Yogyakarta), Bogor Agricultural University and Alliance Organic Indonesia (Bogor). This trip provided us with the opportunity to exchange existing knowledge on organic farming and to jointly plan the upcoming steps in this research project in more detail.
Together, we visited initiatives active in the local organic movement. We had the chance to visit a range of very diverse local organic initiatives, from innovative, business oriented startups to religious and government sponsored groups. During these meetings we also obtained first insights into the obstacles related to organic farming. An insufficient market-infrastructure for organic products, lacking consumer awareness, lacking interest from the younger generation to engage in agriculture and land scarcity were among the most frequently raised obstacles.
Over the next weeks we will now jointly plan the first transdisciplinary workshop on organic farming in Yogyakarta.