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Indonesia Peasants' Union protest against cheap import of potatoes

By Indonesian Peasants' Union - La Via Campesina, December 15, 2016

A large number of small farmers and peasants in Indonesia took out a massive protest against the cheap imports of potatoes, which has thrown the local varieties out of the market and has caused distress to local farmers. 

The statement issued by the Indonesian Peasants' Union read as follows;

We, potato and horticulture peasants from particularly peasants of Dieng Plateu were worried again by circulation of imported potatoes in traditional markets which have lower price than local potato. Noted that throughout January to September 2016, import volume of potatoes reached 65.195,11 tons. 

The importation of potato cause massive loss to potato peasants in Indonesia. Potato peasants of Dieng Plateu, Central Java, have allegedly lost Rp 24,000 on each hecatre. The total potato land area in Dieng Plateu around 15.000 hectare and the loss is estimated to be about Rp 360 billion annually.

In normal condition, peasant potato is usually sent to Jakarta and other areas. But, as a result of cheap potato import -particularly from China and Pakistan - Local potato varieties are pushed out of the market. In Jakarta Kramat Jati Market, on 24 October 2016, Peasants potato was sold around Rp. 8500/kg while import potato was only sold around Rp. 6.000/kg. After import potato spread into traditional markets, local potato was only appreciated around Rp.6.500/kg at the peasant level. By selling price around Rp. 6.500/kg, local potato peasants experienced many loss about Rp. 12 million/hectare at each planting season. Where in a year at least there is twice planting season. Meanwhile to fulfill capital, peasants have to selling potato at minimum price around Rp. 7.500/kg

Not only potato, based on data of data center and information system of agriculture ministry, some of horticulture crops throughout January to September 2016 was also imported and it spread into traditional markets. These are fresh carrot from China, Australia, Malaysia and New Zealand as much as 26.047 tons, 1.767 tons of fresh cabbage and 45 tons of fresh spinach from China, Australia and France. 

Free Trade Agreements pushed through WTO and bilaterally are the root cause of this price crash and crisis. The impacts of trade deals and partnerships such as the AEC (Asean Economic Community) and CAFTA (China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement) is devastating. The free trade mechanism will be more strengthened by approval of RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) leading to more distress. 

Even though RCEP is a new kind of agreement, but it is still maintain the form of free trade which previously exist. Even RCEP can be called as more expansive action of market expansion because it involved cooperation between ASEAN members and China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. It means that food and horticulture crops import policy, potato in this case, already done systemically and planned.

Import of Food and horticulture has clearly hurt peasants and threatened food sovereignty. In fact, peasants in potato central production such as from West Java, Central Java, East Java, North Sumatra, North Sulawesi and Jambi Province have been able to fulfill national needs. Currently, the national potato consumption is around 2,1 kg/capita per year or if it is calculated, the national potato consumption is around 542 thousand ton per year. While national potato peasants production in 2105 reached 1.219.277 tons. 

Fulfilment of potato, horticulture and the other national food needs must be undertaken by food sovereignty principles which was already decanted in constitution number 18 of 2012 in terms of food and fulfillment on the rights of peasants such as which was also decanted in constitution number 19 of 2013 in terms of protection and empowerment on peasants.  

Green Conflict Minerals: The fuels of conflict in the transition to a low-carbon economy

By Clare Church and Alec Crawford - International Institute for Sustainable Development, August 2018

The mining sector will play a key role in the transition toward a low-carbon future.

The technologies required to facilitate this shift, including wind turbines, solar panels and improved energy storage, all require significant mineral and metal inputs and, absent any dramatic technological advances or an increase in the use of recycled materials, these inputs will come from the mining sector. How they are sourced will determine whether this transition supports peaceful, sustainable development in the countries where strategic reserves are found or reinforces weak governance and exacerbates local tensions and grievances.

Through extensive desk-based research, a mapping analysis, stakeholder consultations, case studies and an examination of existing mineral supply chain governance mechanisms, this report seeks to understand how the transition to a low-carbon economy—and the minerals and metals required to make that shift—could affect fragility, conflict and violence dynamics in mineral-rich states.

For the minerals required to make the transition to a low-carbon economy, there are real risks of grievances, tensions and conflicts emerging or continuing around their extraction. In order to meet global goals around sustainable development and climate change mitigation, while contributing to lasting peace, the supply chains of these strategic minerals must be governed in a way that is responsible, accountable and transparent.

Read the report (Link).

Indonesia: global trade unions and NGOs back PepsiCo-linked palm oil workers in their fight for labour rights

By Nithin Coca - Equal Times, August 9, 2017

Research into palm oil plantations in Indonesia reveals that workers and their families are paid illegally low wages, are exposed to dangerous pesticides and face routine abuse so that the US food and beverage giant PepsiCo can make world-famous products such as Quaker Chewy Granola Bars, Cheetos and Lay’s potato chips. Now international trade unions and environmentalists have joined forces in their fight for workers’ rights.

The US-based International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a 1.4 million-member multi-sector union has, along with the International Union of Food Workers, mobilised in the battle against widespread labour and human rights violations on plantations run by Indofood, a major Indonesian partner of PepsiCo.

“Solidarity between workers in the United States and on plantations in Indonesia is very important because we need support to pressure PepsiCo to force Indofood to improve labour conditions,” says Herwin Nasution, executive director of the Indonesian union OPPUK (Organisasi Penguatan dan Pengembangan Usaha-Usaha Kerakyatan, which loosely translates to Organisation for the Strengthening and Development of Community Enterprises).

The Teamsters represent the approximately 20,000 PepsiCo workers at Pepsi beverage, Frito Lay and Quaker production facilities in the US, who were consulted on the decision to send letters to PepsiCo’s board and CEO Indra Nooyi.

“When our members hear stories about palm oil plantation workers in Indonesia - there being the presence of child labour, or illegally low wages and hazardous pesticides – [they understand],” Timothy Beaty, director of global strategies at the Teamsters, tells Equal Times.

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