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Strategic Engagement in Institutions of Organic Farming in Indonesia


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Indonesia was one of the then authoritarian states that spearheaded and thoroughly institutionalized the green revolution. The emergence of organic farming (OF), proposed as a strategy for environmental conservation in Indonesia, is embedded in this history. This article uses social network analysis (SNA) to investigate institutional aspects of OF in Indonesia, focusing on the dynamic interactions amongst the actors that drive its development. The Net-Map method was applied as a tool to explore the tensions, areas of cooperation, and potential spaces for resolution that are constructed by OF actors, with the active engagement of the actors themselves. Based on two indices of network centrality— betweenness centrality and degree of centrality—three distinct groups of actors emerged, characterized by different modes of interaction with government actors. Disengaged actors are not linked to any government actors in sustaining their movement; partially engaged actors strategically adapt to government OF regulations while maintaining their commitment to the foundational principles of the OF movement; fully engaged actors pursue OF wholly within the framework of government regulations. Our analysis suggests different notions of sustainability are enacted by these actors. In addition, the current OF institutions highlight the contradiction between centralized governance structures in the agricultural sector and the government’s stance that OF should prioritize the use of local resources and knowledge. However, spaces exist for negotiation between the civil society and government, which could lead to the formulation of more coherent OF policies that can accommodate a diversity of goals, strategies, and views on the sustainability of OF
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Strategic Engagement in Institutions of
Organic Farming in Indonesia
Dimas D. Laksmana and Martina Padmanabhan
1. Introduction
This paper analyzes the institutional aspects of organic farming (OF) in Indonesia,
focusing on the dynamic interactions among stakeholders in OF social networks and
their engagement with OF government initiatives by using the Net-Map method
based on social network analysis (SNA). OF has been promoted by the state as a
strategy towards nature conservation and environmental protection. Following
the global consensus on the need to transform the current agricultural systems to
achieve some Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular, SDG 15, OF
is considered as a promising model of sustainable agriculture (Willett et al. 2019).
Therefore, this paper specifically questions how ‘sustainable’ Indonesian OF is from
an institutional perspective. Analysis on sustainability and sustainable development,
which are considered as two distinct concepts, should address the specificity of these
concepts which are connected to the actors who define them and the subject of the
enquiry (Nightingale et al. 2019a). Therefore, following this approach, we analytically
show the diversity of views on OF not in order to resolve these dierences, but
rather to bring these dierences to the foreground and to illustrate the various ways
people act upon these tensions. We also focus on the ways in which dierent notions
of sustainable agriculture are negotiated through dierent strategies employed by
OF actors. Specifically, we examine how, and to what extent, the development of
OF has been supported and/or undermined by the social networks of civil society,
government, and the private sector.
Previous studies on SNA and environmental farming practices among cocoa and
coee farmers in Indonesia point out the lack of multi-scale analysis that links local
and global social networks (Matous 2015). However, as argued by Neilson and Shonk
(2014), a ‘value chain approach’ to draw linkages between small-holder farmers
with global players tends to miss the complexity of micro-level interactions between
dierent stakeholders. With a dierent take, our paper illustrates the importance
of combining analysis on the governance and policies of OF at the national level
with the social networks of stakeholders at the local level in understanding the
implementation of OF. Therefore, this paper addresses the limited study on OF
policies and dynamics between actors in Indonesia (David and Ardiansyah 2016). In
addition, the use of Net-Map provides a greater involvement of study participants
to interpret the networks they constructed, a feature which reveals insights on their
positionality with respect to other actors in the networks. Three research questions
were formulated to address the points above:
Which actors influence the institutions of OF in Indonesia?
How do these actors interact with one another?
(3) How do institutional aspects of OF aect the ‘sustainability’ of OF development?
The paper presents the results of a participatory workshop in Yogyakarta,
Indonesia, in 2017 where OF practitioners used Net-Map (Schier 2007) to construct
the social networks of OF in Indonesia
. This research was undertaken as part of the
transdisciplinary research project ‘IndORGANIC’, which explores the environmental,
economic, and social potential of OF in Indonesia (IndORGANIC n.d.).
This paper is structured as follows. First, we describe the historical development
of conventional farming and OF in Indonesia, with particular emphasis on the
interactions between government and civil society. This section identifies the principal
OF actors and provides an overview of relevant policies that frame sustainability
issues in farming. Second, we review the literature on the application of institutional
analysis and SNA for the study of OF in various contexts. Third, we describe how
the Net-Map method was used in a participatory workshop to elicit the views of
OF practitioners on the current state of OF in Indonesia. Fourth, we analyze the
SNA data in the social networks produced by participants in the workshop, and
the content of audio recordings made during the workshop. Our interpretation
of the data leads us to elaborate dierent notions of ‘sustainability’ in OF and to
propose three dierent categories of OF actors, grouped according to their degree of
engagement with the government. In the final section, we identify a possible space
for negotiation within OF institutions where government and dierent actors could
collaborate in formulating a more coherent policy for OF development. For future
research, we identify a need for further investigation on the potential links between
OF development and decentralization.
1Please see the Appendix A for social networks created in the workshop, Figures A1 and A2.
2. Study Area
This section specifies historical development of conventional farming and OF in
Indonesia, specifically in Java. In addition, it links the government’s paradigms and
the governance structure in agriculture, which provide insights on the characteristics
of the interactions between the government and broader civil society.
2.1. The Historical Development of Conventional Farming in Indonesia
The productivist paradigm, farmers’ dependency on the government, and the
top-down transfer of knowledge and agricultural inputs are aspects of governance that
still persist in the current government’s approach to OF. Following the foundation of
independent Indonesia in 1945, the government prioritized the increase of agricultural
production and food price stability—of rice in particular—in order to achieve
national food security (Arifin 2008). These goals were achieved through agriculture
policies inspired by a productivist paradigm, whose key components were the
intensification and industrialization of agriculture (ibid.). Implementation of these
policies involved the creation of top-down bureaucratic institutions that controlled
the distribution of agricultural production, managed input subsidies, and claimed to
have a monopoly of knowledge on agriculture (Winarto 1995; Sawit and Manwan
1991). In 1960s, as part of the green revolution, the government promoted the
use of petroleum-based agricultural inputs and high-yield rice varieties (HYV)
in Indonesia. The implementation of these policies in Indonesia is examined in
numerous studies, including many that criticize their (intended and unintended)
consequences (Fox 1991, 1993; Oka 1997, 2003; Winarto 2004; Winarto 2011; Sawit and
Manwan 1991). While the intensification of agriculture enabled the goal of national
food self-suciency to be achieved in the mid-1980s (Fox 1991 cited in Fox 1993), this
success was short lived, undermined by massive outbreaks of the rice pest brown
plant-hopper (BPH), which attacked paddy fields throughout the country (Winarto
2011; Fox 1993). Among contributing factors to this agricultural disaster were the
bureaucratic ineciency and centralist control that characterized government during
the Soeharto era. All criticism of the government was suppressed, thus, stripping
initiative and decision-making power from lower level government ocials and civil
society (Thorburn 2015). The change of the country’s political system from autocracy
to democracy during the Reform era in 1998 introduced decentralization, including
in agriculture. This important feature of the country’s agricultural policy is further
elaborated in Section 6. However, overall, the introduction of modern agricultural
management during the green revolution period forced farmers to be institutionally,
technically, and financially dependent on the government (Winarto 2004, pp. 365–66).
This historical background and institutional context influence the characteristics of
the networks of OF actors in contemporary Indonesia, as described in Section 7.
2.2. Civil Society and OF
OF in Indonesia, particularly in Java, emerged as a social movement initiated
and spread by non-governmental actors. The Bina Sarana Bakti
(BSB) foundation
was established in 1983 in West Java to provide an alternative option for farmers
locked into a centralized agricultural system that perpetuated their financial and
institutional dependency on the state and continuous environmental degradation
(David and Ardiansyah 2016). This organization is recognized as being the first
to oer training in OF for farmers in Indonesia (Jahroh 2010). Another milestone
in the OF movement occurred in 1990, when the Ganjuran Declaration, issued at
the conclusion of an international seminar held in Central Java on soil degradation
caused by agricultural intensification, called for sustainable agricultural development
based on the principles of ecological, economic, cultural, and social sustainability
(Utomo 2005). In subsequent years, the World Food Day Secretariat for Farmers and
Fishermen (SPTN-HPS)
, which was founded during the same seminar, continued to
promote these principles and spread knowledge of sustainable agriculture.
More recently, numerous organizations and initiatives promoting OF at dierent
scales have emerged in Indonesia. In Central Java, communities of organic market
provide space for the exchange of knowledge and transactions of healthy and artisanal
food, where ‘self-certification’ of the organic produce is accepted by customers based
on trust (Widiyanto 2019). These are community-based grassroots movements
initiated by individuals with common aspirations and interests. At a national
level, the Indonesia Organic Alliance (AOI)
is a long-established organization that
has functioned since 2002 as an umbrella organization, connecting dierent actors
involved in OF, and publishing statistics on OF in Indonesia (AOI 2018; AOI n.d.). OF
is also supported by international development agencies, such as the international
NGO, Rikolto Indonesia, which promotes sustainable agriculture in Indonesia by
providing institutional and technical support to farmers (Rikolto n.d.).
2Yayasan Bina Sarana Bakti.
3Sekretariat Petani dan Nelayan Hari Pangan Sedunia.
4Aliansi Organis Indonesia.
2.3. The Indonesian Government and OF
Government’s approach to the development of OF is characterized by
productivist and market-oriented agendas, which are exemplified by the following
programs and policies. The first government initiative to support the expansion of
OF was the “Go Organic” program, launched in 2002, which aimed to transform
Indonesia into one of the main producers and exporters of organic food products
in the world by 2010 (Ditjen BPPHP 2001). This was supported by the creation of a
national standard for OF, based on third-party certification, within the Indonesian
National Standard (SNI) certification system (SNI No. 01-6729-2002) (BSN 2002).
This SNI and subsequent updated versions of the standard provide guidelines for
the regulatory agency OKPO (Competent Authority for Organic Food) and extension
workers led by the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) (BSN 2002; Ministry of Agriculture
2003). The main responsibilities of OKPO are to formulate regulatory policies for the
monitoring and development of organic food systems, oversee the establishment of
organic food certification bodies, and verify the competence of certification bodies
and other entities that perform similar functions (Ministry of Agriculture 2003). All
the above standards and regulations cover not only agricultural production but
also the activities of other private sector organizations involved in the OF sector,
such as certification bodies, suppliers, and retailers (BSN 2002, 2016). While the
goal of the “Go Organic” program was not achieved, given that the proportion of
organic land is less than 1% of the total agricultural land in 2015 (AOI 2018)
, the
regulatory and institutional structure it gave rise to remains in place. In 2016, the
government of President Jokowi launched the “1000 Organic Villages” program with
the aim of creating 1000 organic-certified villages throughout the country (Plantation
General Directorate of the Ministry of Agriculture 2016). This program was part of
the strategy to achieve food sovereignty within the government’s wider development
agenda (KPPN/BPPN 2014). Despite the government’s acknowledgement of the
importance of local knowledge and resources, this program still emphasizes the
transfer of knowledge, agricultural inputs, and financial support from the MoA to
organic farmers (Plantation General Directorate of the Ministry of Agriculture 2016).
The top-down structure of the program is apparent from Figure 1.
According to these statistics, organic land includes agricultural land of four dierent groups: the
members of AOI who practice OF without having organic certificate, organic-certified farmers, organic
farmers who are in the process of being certified, and organic farmers who are certified by PAMOR
which is the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) in Indonesia.
resear ch and
development body
Depar tment of
food security
OKPO (Co mpetent
Autho rity for
Organic Food)
Depar tment of
Depar tment of
BP4 (Ext ension
oice f or food crop
and fishery)
(Pest con trol oicer )
Farmer group
Organic farmer
Extension worker
SNI 672 9: 2002,
2010, 2013, 2016
KAN (National
LSO (Org anic
certification body)
BSN (National
Ministry of
agriculture (MoA)
Figure 1.
Governance of organic farming (OF) in food crops production in Indonesia
(Laksmana and Padmanabhan 2019 based on BSN 2016; Ministry of Agriculture 2003).
3. Theoretical Framework
3.1. Institutional Theory
In this paper, an institution is understood as sets of prescriptions, such as rules
and norms, which shape structured and repetitive human interactions. While social
interactions are regulated by these rules, the participants and non-participants of
these interactions have the possibility to change them (Ostrom 2005, p. 3). Rules in
this context are understood in regulatory terms, as something created by an authority
(not necessarily conflated with government) that permit or prohibit certain actions
(Black 1962, p. 115 cited in Ostrom 2005, p. 17). Conducting institutional analysis is
challenging because of the diversity of situations in which preferences are expressed
and choices are made, as well as the implicit nature of many of the rules governing
their outcomes (Ostrom 2005, pp. 4–5). It is important to select an appropriate level
of analysis that gives sucient information on the specific situation of interest, but
at the same time, provides information on outcomes that is generalizable across a
range of cases (Ostrom 2005, pp. 5–6). To address these challenges, we follow the
theoretical framework by Michelsen et al. (2001) which identifies three levels of
the institutional environment that constrain decision-making by organic farmers:
macro (rules governing civil society, market, and the state), meso (rules governing
farming community, agricultural policy, and food market), and micro (rules governing
interaction among actors) level. We analyze Indonesian OF institutions at the micro-
and meso-level, with a particular focus on the interactions among actors (individuals
and organizations) and the governance of OF. Organizations are associations of
individuals who share and participate in the same meaning systems or similar
symbolic processes and are subject to common regulatory processes (Scott 1994
cited in Lynggaard 2001). We apply SNA for micro-level analysis to explore the
emic perspectives of actors, specifically their perceptions of OF, expectations, and
positionality in the networks. Meso-level analysis was conducted by reviewing the
literature on the institutions of OF and publications of the relevant governmental
agencies. By synthesizing these two levels of analysis, we demonstrate that OF
institutions in Indonesia are influenced by the characteristics of the social networks of
OF actors that are embedded within the governance of OF. In addition, from the current
OF institutions, we draw upon dierent notions of ‘sustainability’ enacted by the
involved actors. The following sections present the results of the meso-level analysis.
3.2. The Institutions of OF
Numerous studies on OF analyze institutions as determining factors in the
development of OF, which is measured variously in terms of the number of organic
farmers and farms, market size, consumer demand, and the existence of regulations
governing OF (Michelsen 2001b; Lynggaard 2001; Bellon and de Abreu 2006; Sanders
2006; Slavova et al. 2017). Studies characterize OF as fundamentally distinct from
conventional farming in terms of values and relations among actors (Michelsen
2001a, 2001b). It is suggested that these distinctions arise as a consequence of the
origins of OF, particularly in Europe, in social movements that were critical of the
environmental and social impacts of conventional farming (Conford 2001; Tomlinson
2008). Historically, the sustainability of OF is variously rooted in environmental
protection, health and food safety, and equity issues related to control over means of
production in agriculture (Tovey 1997; Tomlinson 2008; Lockie et al. 2006). Tensions
arise when the self-regulatory aspect of OF is undermined by the creation of organic
standards, thus, diminishing the importance of individual actors in the OF movement
and strengthening the position of government agencies (Michelsen 2001a). Michelsen
et al. (2001) propose three types of institutional relationships that may exist between
OF and the institutions that govern conventional agriculture: pure cooperation, pure
competition, and creative conflict. OF institutions in dierent countries vary, reflecting
their specific national contexts. The OF principles coined by the International
Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) are commonly referred
to compare the principles of the global OF movement with national-level organic
regulations (Michelsen 2001b; Sanders 2006). However, countries that develop their
organic sectors for the export market face the challenge of harmonizing organic
regulations with international standards (Mutersbaugh 2004). Harmonization not
only poses challenges for the traders and activists involved in the OF movement,
but it can also have wider transformational eects, by redefining the meanings of
“things”, “people”, and “social relations” that make up property regimes (Verdery
and Humphrey 2004 cited in Aistara 2018, p. 138).
3.3. The Institutionalization Process in OF
The literature on the institutionalization of OF addresses the challenges involved
in developing a regulatory framework for OF that is compatible with international
standards. Institutionalization is considered in this study as a process in which OF is
transformed from a social movement that positions itself as distinct from conventional
farming into a branch of agriculture that is embedded in conventional farming. This
happens, for instance, through alignment with institutional support structures that
enable conventional farming to persist or the codification of organic principles into
sets of legally recognized standards and definitions (Buck et al. 1997; Tomlinson
2008). Early studies of the institutionalization of OF were mainly concerned with the
reconceptualization of OF within the framework of state agricultural policy (Lockie
et al. 2006; Tovey 1997), while later studies focus more on the codification of the
principles of the OF movement into national or supranational organic standards
and how this process has aected the goals of the OF movement (Michelsen 2001a;
Lynggaard 2001). The institutionalization process entails a process of institutional
change within OF that can be manifested by the formulation and adherence to new
sets of rules and regulations (Lynggaard 2001). In addition, the emergence of new
organizations or mergers of existing organizations can be treated as an approximation
to institutional change (ibid.). For example, Kaltoft (1999) argues that the creation
of national certification and financial subsidies in Denmark led to the dilution of
value-laden principles that had underpinned the development of OF as a social
movement, and their reduction in OF to a set of technical and quantitative definitions
and rules. However, Edwards (2013) argues that the formulation of national standards
for OF is part of an institutionalization process that does not necessarily undermine
the values of OF as a social movement in Indonesia. Within the OF movement,
actors have devised dierent strategies for adapting to regulatory change without
abandoning the values that underpin OF as a social movement (ibid.). Therefore, the
introduction of OF regulations does not predetermine subsequent trajectories in the
institutionalization of OF. However, regulations do have consequences, as discussed
in Sections 6 and 7.
3.4. Institutional Analysis and SNA
SNA is an analysis based on the dyadic relationships between actors in a
network. Numerous studies in OF apply SNA in order to examine the network
characteristics associated with phenomena such as the commercialization of OF, the
participation of individuals in policy-making, adoption of organic practices, the
process of knowledge and information production and circulation among OF actors,
and OF policy development (Thiers 2002; Mutersbaugh 2004; Bellon and de Abreu
2006; Tomlinson 2010; Wollni and Andersson 2014; Poerting 2015; Slavova et al. 2017).
In our research, we used Data Muse to calculate the values for two indices, degree
of centrality and betweenness centrality, in order to analyze the relationships and
dierent kinds of flow among the network of OF actors. The actors with high degree
of centrality have more links with other actors in the network, while actors with high
values of betweenness centrality facilitate flows in the network (Krebs 2004). From
these two indices, we can derive a general understanding on structural determinants
of influence, the roles of actors, and how the positions of actors in the network relate
to their influence (Schier and Hauck 2010).
In the abovementioned studies, SNA is usually based on information obtained in
semi-structured interviews and surveys where interviewees describe their interactions
with other individuals, while the interpretation of the networks is predominantly
conducted by analysts. By contrast, in our study, Net-Map was employed to visualize
the networks of OF actors and, as further explained in Section 5, this approach
enabled us to explore the actors’ emic perceptions of the networks that structure their
interactions and their own positionalities within these networks. In Section 7, we
highlight the influence of the historical coevolution of civil society and government
in the area of conventional farming on current OF institutions. Our analysis identifies
and characterizes the links among OF actors and shows how these are related to their
past positionalities, particularly in relation to the government, and their visions of
the sustainability and future development of OF.
4. Research Methodology and Limitations
This section describes the study participants, Net-Map method, and our
reflection on the research methodology’s limitation. We implemented Net-Map
in a participatory workshop held in Yogyakarta in 2017. Out of the 46 people we
invited, 28 participated in the workshop. They were mainly from West and Central
Java, which are both the primary agricultural production areas in Indonesia and
areas which have played an essential role in the historical development of OF, as
mentioned in Section 3. The participants came from diverse backgrounds (Table 1).
They were identified based on academic papers and grey literature on Indonesian
OF and an explorative study conducted in the two study areas before the workshop.
Besides, they were selected based on their various forms of involvement in OF. For
example, we invited extension workers and staof the department of agriculture as
they monitor and implement OF programs. We also invited NGOs and activists who
conduct OF training, thus, are involved in spreading OF knowledge and values. To
understand the trade and marketing aspect of OF, we invited organic traders. These
categories are based on self-identification.
Table 1. The participants of the workshop from Central and West Java.
Aliation Academic Government
Ocial Activist Organic
Farmer NGO Organic
Traders Total
Central Java
3 2 3 2 3 2 15
West Java 7 2 1 2 1 13
Net-Map is an interview-based mapping tool for visualizing networks that can
help people understand, discuss, and improve situations in which dierent actors
can influence outcomes (Schier 2007). This method is based on SNA and was
developed to address some of the shortcomings of SNA data collection, particularly
the interviewees’ lack of learning opportunities (Schier and Hauck 2010). The
Net-Map method encourages participants in the process to discuss and interpret
the networks among themselves (ibid.). This method is suitable for application
in a variety of intercultural settings and dierent purposes because of the use of
low-tech and low-cost materials and the discussion on the properties of the networks
in concrete terms (Birner et al. 2010; Schier and Hauck 2010; Campbell et al. 2013;
Schöley and Padmanabhan 2016). However, the limitations of the method are the
numbers of links can become unmanageably large when working with a large or
not very well-defined group of actors and the influence of more powerful actors is a
potential source of bias as actors perceived as non-influential might be excluded from
expressing their views (Schier and Hauck 2010). To overcome the power dynamics
among workshop participants, we assigned two facilitators, who can interfere when
some participants dominated the discussion, for each group.
The procedure of the workshop is as follows. First, two facilitators familiar
with the method divided the participants into two equally sized groups. Each
group worked on a large table around which they moved freely. Second, we asked
participants, “Who are the important players that can influence organic farming?”.
We asked the participants to list influential actors and assign them, based on their
interpretation, to one of four categories of actors: Non-Governmental Organization
(NGO), private sector, government, and community. The names of actors were
written on colored cards and placed on the tables. The colors of the cards indicate
dierent categories. Third, we explained to the participants how to describe the
links and the direction of the links between actors. We specified four types of
links: information or knowledge, marketing channel, agricultural inputs (fertilizer,
pesticide, and financial support), and seeds or animals. Participants drew arrows
that indicated the links and direction of the links using markers of dierent colors
to connect pairs of actors. Fourth, participants built ‘influence towers’ by placing
plastic cups on the card representing each actor. The height of the tower corresponds
to the actor’s degree of influence in the networks. Due to time constraints and mental
fatigue among the participants, we did not implement the last step of the Net-Map
method, which deals with strategizing. In the strategizing step, interviewees are
asked to provide actors’ perceived goals, which can assist them in deciding on
potential collaborations or conflicts that might arise from interacting with particular
actors. Finally, Net-Map visualizations of Figures 2–4 were created using Data
Muse, open-source software for network visualization and network data analysis
We inputted data for network visualization based on the photographs of the two
networks produced at the workshop. The degree of centrality is calculated by Data
Muse according to the number of links of an actor divided by the number of links
of an actor with the greatest number of links in the network (Freeman 1978). The
maximum value is 1, which indicates the greatest number of links an actor has,
and the minimum value is 0, which stipulates no link an actor has in a network.
Betweenness centrality is calculated according to the sum of the fraction of all-pairs’
shortest paths that pass through a node. The betweenness centrality of a node v, for
example, follows this formula:
σ(s, t|v)
σ(s, t)
where V is the set of nodes,
(s,t) is the number of shortest (s,t)-paths, and
v) is the number of those paths passing through node v (Brandes 2008). The
maximum value is 1, and the minimum value is 0. An actor with the highest degree
of betweenness is on the closest links between other actors, so that the actor can
control flows in a network. The visualized social networks were supplemented with
qualitative analysis of audio recording of the group discussions and information
obtained from organizations’ websites, booklets, publications, and policy documents.
The Net-Map method assisted us discover nuanced interpretations of the social
networks constructed by the workshop participants, which would otherwise not be
revealed by the survey method. For instance, the local organic market community
is connected to other actors mostly through knowledge/information transfer, since
the term market is not limited to a place for selling organic products but also for
exchange of ideas, as one participant explained (Section 5). Despite this advantage,
there were some problems and limitations in implementating the research method,
out of which are related to the points elaborated by Schier and Hauck (2010). First,
the way the workshop was organized was a potential source of bias in the results.
We selected and invited the workshop participants based on our judgment of their
knowledge of OF and influence in OF. This selection may have favored certain forms
of knowledge or opinions and excluded others. Moreover, the two groups were also
formed based on self-selection by participants. To the extent that group formation
was based on familiarity among the participants, this could have influenced the
discussions’ dynamic. In any case, it should be borne in mind that the workshop
results provide a snapshot of interactions among a selected group of actors at a
particular point in time. As elaborated in Section 6, OF situation in Indonesia is not
static, and both actors and the institutional framework are changing and evolving.
Some possibly more fundamental limitations of the method were identified by
the participants, who did not merely follow the Net-Map instructions but actively
engaged in critical discussions and meaning-making as we proceeded. In particular,
crucial discussions took place on the notion of “influence”, which was considered
ambiguous by the participants. They queried whether it was possible to assign values
to the actors’ influence based on their actions in the network and pointed out that
“influence” was a shorthand term for a set of sometimes incomparable characteristics.
For example, how could one compare the influence of organic farmers with that of the
MoA? Besides, they maintained that a distinction should be made between “positive”
and “negative” influence; however, an actor’s judgment in this regard would depend
on their positionality concerning the presence of other actors in the network. In other
words, both the quantity and the quality of influence reflect the normative stances
of actors. For instance, extension workers are influential as they provide technical
knowledge and information on the government’s programs for farmers. However,
they may not be equally influential (quantity of influence) across dierent actors in
the network. Moreover, dierent actors have dierent opinions about the standard
and usefulness (quality of influence) of the advice they provide. This interpretation
implies that, from individual actors’ perspective, working closely with “influential”
actors does not always help them achieve their goals. As mentioned by Schier and
Hauck (2010), this issue arose from working with a not so well-defined group of
participants, where each individual can have conflicting goals.
However, these critical discussions among participants illustrate one of the
strengths of Net-Map. They show the advantages of encouraging participants’
active engagement in critically reflecting on and analyzing their positionality
concerning other stakeholders in the networks, instead of leaving this analysis
to the researchers alone.
5. Results—OF Actors and Links
Based on the two social networks produced during the workshop, we propose
three categories of OF actors based on their dierent degree of engagement with the
government, their positionalities in the network, and the interactions among them.
We call these disengaged, partially engaged, and fully engaged groups.
5.1. The Disengaged Group
The disengaged group is characterized by the rejection of interaction with the
government. This group is dominated by activists who were inspired by the early
pioneers in Indonesian OF. For members of this group, the introduction of organic
certification as specified by SNI 01-6729-2002 in 2002 was a decisive moment that
altered the aims and the actions of OF as a social movement. In the discussions at the
workshop, they expressed the view that the prohibitive cost of organic certificates
perpetuates the injustice that prevails in conventional agriculture. This view is aligned
with another study that argues for the democratization of third-party certification
(Konefal and Hatanaka 2011). As mentioned in Section 1, OF was promoted by
BSB and SPTN-HPS as a means of achieving both greater independence of farmers
and environmental sustainability in farming. More recently, the introduction of OF
certification, envisaged as a way to protect consumers, has raised awareness within
the OF movement of the need to take consumers into account, a viewpoint supported
by Joko
, an organic activist, in the discussions at the workshop. However, one initial
aim of the OF movement, that to a certain extent is still pursued by activists today,
was to create a community. Community in this sense can be understood as a group
of people with shared causes or interests, where the roles of those who identify with
this group can be quite flexible and interchangeable. The actors in the disengaged
group, including Joko, are (also) concerned that the development OF that seems
to be following the blueprint of conventional farming towards greater engagement
with agri-business:
So I think it is important to be aware of the State’s interpretation of OF,
when we talk about Go Organic 2010 program. In the end the aim [of
the government] is to develop organic fertilizer industry. (Interview,
9 December 2017)
According to this group, at first, the OF movement was primarily supported by
NGOs, whereas it is now mainly driven by market demand. Actors in this group
have to adjust to this recent development. They have to either submit to the demands
of the market, setting their sights on organic certification and carving out a niche
in the market, or to create an alternative system that focuses on the creation of
community. This group is exemplified by the local organic market communities
(komunitas pasar organik lokal), which are connected to private sector organizations
(traders and distributors of organic products), NGOs, and other communities in the
network. The term ‘local organic market community’ reflects the dual purpose of
these organizations. As Joko, who was one of the initiators of the local organic market
community in Central Java, explains:
Actually this [local organic market community] can be considered as a
community. It’s called a market because it’s a place where they [people]
meet. I try to define them [local organic market community] so that
there is an encounter [where people meet to exchange ideas]. (Interview,
9 December 2017)
Figure 2 shows the network connections of the organic market community in
Central Java. This actor not only oers a physical space where transactions can take
place, for example, as a place where non-corporate farmers (petani non-korporasi)
can sell their produce, but also serves as a networking platform for other actors
7All names in this paper are pseudonyms.
with shared concerns about OF (Figure 2). For instance, this actor shares knowledge
on nutrition and healthy lifestyle to local consumers, transmits knowledge about
agricultural technology to private sector actors, and participates in OF-related research
with NGO actors.
Categories Links
Private sector
Information Knowledge
Marketing Channel
Seed Animals
Local Organic Market Community
Non-corporate farmer
Gilangharjo village DIY
Truka Jaya Sala tiga
Jo glo Ta ni
EEC Farm
SIMPATIK Cooperative
Figure 2.
The network of the local organic market community in Central Java. The
size of the sphere corresponds to the height of the influence tower (see the text for
further explanation). Source: original data by authors.
As shown in Figure 2, this actor has no links with government actors, but
numerous links to NGO actors as well as with private sector organizations (degree of
centrality score 0.55). In most cases, the links consist of exchanges of information.
Apart from providing a market for goods produced by non-corporate farmers, there
are no physical exchanges (e.g., of seeds or other inputs) in this network. Another
notable feature of the network is the low degree of betweenness centrality (with a
score of 0.01); thus, this actor does not facilitate the flow of information between
other, otherwise unconnected actors. According to the workshop participants, in
this particular network, local consumers have the most influence and non-corporate
farmers together with the local organic market community have the least.
5.2. The Partially Engaged Group
The actors who belong to this group are characterized by their strategic
adaptation to the government regulations, while retaining certain aspects of OF as a
social movement, especially regarding the issue of farmers’ independence from the
current system of conventional agriculture. They interact with government actors,
for example, by accepting government support, as long as this helps them to advance
their goals. However, participants at the workshop commented that they are wary of
accepting financial support, as this tends to provoke conflict, whereas technological
support can be useful. One member of this group, SPTN-HPS, one of the early
pioneers of OF in Java (see Section 3), has the degree of centrality score 1.0, with links
to all four categories of actors (Figure 3). The majority of links are for knowledge and
information transfer, but SPTN-HPS is also connected to other actors through the
exchange of agricultural and/or financial inputs and seeds. In these relationships,
SPTN-HPS tends to be the provider of information and knowledge to other actors,
including other NGOs working on OF-related issues, retailers, village ocials, and
communities. In addition, SPTN-HPS distributes or sells seeds and animals to both
community-based seed banks and distributors of organic products. SPTN-HPS also
works directly with village ocials to promote the benefits and importance of OF
for village development. It, thus, collaborates with government at the level of the
administrative units that have direct interactions with farmers as farmlands are
predominantly located in rural Indonesia. As a result of decentralization, village
governors control significant resources (the so-called village funds) and can influence
the direction of agricultural development of the areas they represent. Among the
NGOs and communities in Central Java with links to SPTN-HPS are the Young
Farmers School (Sekti Muda) and Mursyidul Hadi Islamic boarding school. These
two platforms are used by some farmer activists, for example, those who are part of
the Indonesian Peasant Union (SPI), to promote OF as part of a strategy to develop
young activists and as the starting point for building a grassroots agrarian movement.
Totok, who is a former extension worker and is a representative of SPI in Central
Java, further explains:
The Village government is more important [than provincial government],
especially after the Village Law was passed, they can use village funds to
empower [the villagers]. I have observed several places where OF was
developed together with the village governments, because they can take
decisions on their own. In this situation the position of village government is
more important than the district government. (Interview, 9 December 2017)
Figure 3.
The network of the World Food Day Secretariat for Farmers and Fishermen
(SPTN-HPS). The size of the sphere corresponds to the height of the influence tower.
Source: original data by authors.
The above statement is illustrated in Figure 3 by the fact that participants in the
workshop considered that the village governor had the highest degree of influence in
this network. SPTN-HPS has the highest degree of betweenness centrality (score 0.36)
in the network, which indicates its important role in the network as a facilitator of
information flows between actors that otherwise would not be connected. Due to their
influence and centrality in the network, partially engaged actors have the opportunity
to disseminate the holistic principles of the OF movement while simultaneously
promoting alternative OF systems that are distinct from the government’s approach to
OF. Therefore, they are able to operate on two fronts, cooperating with government to
promote OF and simultaneously creating an alternative system where they disagree
with the government’s actions. In this sense, they can influence the government’s
approach by exchanging information with government actors who share their interest
in promoting OF.
5.3. The Fully Engaged Group
In this group, OF actors are characterized by their adaption to the current OF
regulations. They generally have links with government agencies, other communities,
and actors in the private sector, but no links with NGO actors. They adhere to
the status quo and, to the extent that they are successful, provide a justification
for the government approach to OF that focuses on building consumer–producer
relationships. The creation of a legal framework for OF, with definitions and standards,
has allowed actors who do not necessarily identify themselves as belonging to the
organic movement to partake in the OF system. In this context, the OF system can be
understood as a mechanism for the trade of organic products as premium agricultural
products, which protects both consumers and producers from misinformation or
fraud through third-party certification as set out in SNI 2016 (BSN 2016). One example
of an actor in this group is the farmers’ association Gapoktan (Gabungan Kelompok
Tani). This is a federation of farmer groups in hamlets that operates at the village
level (see Figure 1). In Indonesian agriculture, farmer groups are an ocial channel
for the distribution and dissemination of agricultural subsidies and technical support.
Therefore, only farmers who join farmer groups can access government support,
though exceptions might exist.
Gapoktan maintains connections with government agencies and other
government-sponsored groups with connections to agriculture. Government ocials,
for instance, public sector employees, often source organic products from farmers,
either through formal channels as part of a policy or informally through personal
contacts. In Figure 4, these links are observed in the form of inflows of knowledge
and information from government actors, such as the regency-level department of
agriculture and MoA extension workers. In addition, Gapoktan has a trading relation
with the regency-level department of trade, which acts as a trading channel between
farmers and customers. Totok, a former extension worker, explains how this works:
So usually farmer groups [in hamlets] focus more on the technical aspect
on the field. Meanwhile, Gapoktan focuses more on administrative issues,
for example in connecting them [farmers in farmer groups] with the
government which is one administrative level above [hamlet]. (Interview,
9 December 2017)
Categories Links
Private sector
Information Knowledge
Marketing Channel
Seed Animals
Farmer gr oup of water user s (P3A)
Farmer Credit Union
Village governor
Regency-level depar tment of agriculture
Extension worker
Seed conserver group
Farmers’ association (Gapoktan
Bumi Lestari
Department of industry, trade and cooperative (Disperindagkop)
Religious institution
Regency-level department of trade
Village governorVillage governor
Regency-level department of tradeRegency-level department of trade
Regency-level department of tradeRegency-level department of trade
Regency-level department of tradeRegency-level department of trade
Regency-level department of tradeRegency-level department of trade
Regency-level department of tradeRegency-level department of trade
Seed conserver groupSeed conserver group
Seed conserver groupSeed conserver group
Farmers’ association (GapoktanFarmers’ association (Gapoktan
Farmers’ association (GapoktanFarmers’ association (Gapoktan
Farmers’ association (GapoktanFarmers’ association (Gapoktan
Farmers’ association (GapoktanFarmers’ association (Gapoktan
Farmers’ association (GapoktanFarmers’ association (Gapoktan
Farmers’ association (GapoktanFarmers’ association (Gapoktan
Religious institutionReligious institution
Religious institutionReligious institution
Religious institutionReligious institution
Religious institutionReligious institution
Farmers’ association (GapoktanFarmers’ association (Gapoktan
Farmers’ association (GapoktanFarmers’ association (Gapoktan
Religious institutionReligious institution
Religious institutionReligious institution
Religious institutionReligious institution
Religious institutionReligious institution
Religious institutionReligious institution
Farmers’ association (GapoktanFarmers’ association (Gapoktan
Farmers’ association (GapoktanFarmers’ association (Gapoktan
Farmers’ association (GapoktanFarmers’ association (Gapoktan
Farmers’ association (GapoktanFarmers’ association (Gapoktan
Farmers’ association (GapoktanFarmers’ association (Gapoktan
Farmers’ association (GapoktanFarmers’ association (Gapoktan
Farmers’ association (GapoktanFarmers’ association (Gapoktan
Farmers’ association (GapoktanFarmers’ association (Gapoktan
Religious institutionReligious institution
Village governorVillage governor
Farmers’ association (GapoktanFarmers’ association (Gapoktan
Farmers’ association (GapoktanFarmers’ association (Gapoktan
Seed conserver groupSeed conserver group
Farmers’ association (GapoktanFarmers’ association (Gapoktan
Farmers’ association (GapoktanFarmers’ association (Gapoktan
Farmers’ association (GapoktanFarmers’ association (Gapoktan
Farmers’ association (GapoktanFarmers’ association (Gapoktan
Farmers’ association (GapoktanFarmers’ association (Gapoktan
Figure 4.
The network of the association of farmers group (Gapoktan). The size
of the sphere corresponds to the height of influence tower. Source: original data
by authors.
In the network, Gapoktan is connected to other government-sponsored groups,
such as Bumi Lestari which is a women’s farmer group (KWT) and a farmers’
group of water users (P3A) that is responsible for the construction of irrigation
channels and drains in and around agricultural fields. These links take the form
of exchange of information about government programs and/or distribution of
agricultural inputs and financial support. Gapoktan has the second highest score for
the degree of centrality (0.89) and a relatively equal number of outflow and inflow
links, reflecting its influence in the OF network. It was perceived as influential in the
network by the participants, though with a lower degree of influence than village
governor. This is probably an indication of Gapoktan’s dependence on support from
government agencies, as mentioned above. However, Gapoktan’s relatively low
value of betweenness centrality (0.14) indicates that it does not play an important
role as a bridge between actors which otherwise are not connected.
6. Discussion—OF Institutions in Indonesia and Future Implications
In this section, we argue that understanding the emergence of OF institutions,
through an analysis of the characteristics of the social networks of OF actors and
their relations with the historical development of conventional agriculture, can assist
in understanding how the future development and sustainability of OF are perceived
and constructed by the related actors. Understanding the interplay between OF as a
state policy and as a social movement is crucial for projecting the future trajectory of
OF (Michelsen 2001a; Lynggaard 2001).
As mentioned above, since the early 2000s, the MoA has introduced a number of
regulations and programs that define, standardize, and set the agenda for Indonesian
OF. The Indonesian Standard SNI 6729:2016 on organic farming systems states that
one of the aims of OF is to create agriculture that is socially, ecologically, economically,
and ethically sustainable (BSN 2016). In addition, organic farming is framed as a
strategy for environmental conservation. This approach by the MoA seems to adhere
to the OF principles set out by IFOAM and, in Indonesia, the Ganjuran Declaration.
Simultaneously, the aim of this national standard to protect consumers and producers
of organic products from misinformation (BSN 2016), in a sense, defines OF as a
market relationship, distinguishing the dierent roles of consumers, producers and
distributors. This market-based approach has transformed Indonesian OF, which is
rooted in the social movements that operated at the grassroots level and emphasized
community building. Moreover, closer scrutiny of this policy document reveals
that the majority of the information it contains is related to technical aspects in
OF, such as the requirement for barriers around organic farms, lists of permitted
and prohibited inputs, the conversion period from conventional to organic farming,
and other technical measures (BSN 2002; BSN 2016). Therefore, the state has been
developing OF following the narrative of sustainable development as ecological
modernization, where the invention of environmentally benign technology in OF
goes hand-in-hand with economic growth (Nightingale et al. 2019b). Despite the
state’s recognition of the importance of social, economic, and ethical aspects in OF,
they receive much less attention.
Furthermore, the focus on national programs to promote OF recalls the
productivist, top-down approach of policies for conventional agriculture, which leads
to farmers’ dependence on the state. For instance, the targets of the “1000 Organic
Village” program are to be achieved through the top-down distribution of agricultural
inputs, knowledge transfer, and financial and institutional support for organic
certification (Plantation General Directorate of the Ministry of Agriculture 2016).
This program views OF as part of the national food sovereignty agenda that leads
to food security, an overarching strategic aim of agricultural policy in Indonesia
(Neilson and Wright 2017; Schreer and Padmanabhan 2019). On the one hand, the
state’s orientation in developing OF is technically measurable, for example, through
the number of certified organic farms, size of market share, and consumption and
production of organic products. In principal, these indicators can be used to assess
the sustainability of OF. On the other hand, the diversity of strategies, values, and
goals upheld by various OF actors question the extent in which the state’s approach
contributes to the future sustainability of OF. Moreover, OF is still embedded within
the governance of conventional farming (see Figure 1), whereby government agencies
take dual roles in developing both organic and conventional farming. Contrary to the
European case, where the EU as a supranational entity pushed for the formulation of
national OF policies (Slavova et al. 2017), in Indonesia, OF policies emerged from the
dominant role played by a national government that views conventional farming
and OF as two systems that are not necessarily contradictory, but should be able to
exist in parallel and operate side by side.
The need to respond to these inconsistencies in government policy has led
to the emergence of three categories of actors within OF social networks. The
disengaged group is characterized by its association with the organic movement
and its critical attitude towards the government; members of this group have no
links with any government actors, as shown in the example of the local organic
market community. In particular, they criticize the dilution of OF principles through
the focus on standardization and technical definitions, the realignment of OF from
community building towards market relationships, and justice issues related to
the industrialization of OF, for example, through mechanization and the focus on
input substitution (Goodman et al. 1987). They believe that in all these respects, the
government’s approach to OF perpetuates the existing shortcomings of conventional
agriculture. These limitations restrict farmers’ initiatives when selecting which
farming practices to adopt. They increase the dependency of organic farmers on
the state and on policies adapted to the needs of industrialized agriculture—despite
the fact that almost two-thirds of farmers in Indonesia are smallholders (Aji et al.
2019; BPS 2018). Therefore, actors in this group consider sustainability in OF should
constitute a justice dimension where means of production are not controlled by those
who are not directly involved in farming, but rather more independence among
farmers in deciding how and what to grow and where to sell. However, actors
in the disengaged group do not express their criticisms by advocating for policy
changes — as does the Soil Association in the UK, for example (Conford 2001).
Instead, they adapt to the policy environment by engaging with retailers directly,
while maintaining connections with the NGOs that pioneered OF in Indonesia as a
way of upholding the foundational principles of the organic movement. The actors
in this group operate in a close-knit network characterized by a large number of
links with other actors and low values of betweenness centrality. It should be noted
that, in the context of national regulations, which were created to facilitate the trade
of organic products, these alternative community-based organic markets are, in
principal, illegal (Aistara 2015). While at present, this remains largely a technicality,
this legal issue might become a serious problem in the near future if the government
increases the monitoring of trade in organic products, or if the definition of ‘organic’
is made even stricter.
The second group that we identify is the partially engaged group, which is
connected both to the OF movement and the conventional agricultural sector, and
strategically adapts to the ongoing changes in state policies by maintaining links with
government actors. One example is SPTN-HPS, which is one of the organic pioneers
in Central Java and was originally supported by the Catholic Church. In the social
network, they still maintain this connection with religious institutions, with whom,
they exchange information on the philosophy and technical aspects of OF. They also
play a supporting role in government-sponsored OF projects, for instance, by oering
advice and training to farmers and village governors. The role of SPTN-HPS in
promoting OF in government projects might reflect its credibility among government
actors, derived from its status as a pioneer of the organic movement. In the network,
SPTN-HPS is a central actor given by its high degree of centrality and its links with all
four categories of actors. Nevertheless, after their funding from Catholic social and
development organizations ended in 2009, SPTN-HPS has been struggling to adapt
to changes in OF, as the priorities of organic farmers have shifted, to a certain extent
at least, from building a social movement to obtaining certification and markets
for their products (Tamtomo forthcoming). The challenge that SPTN-HPS has been
facing, could be argued, is connected to the radical aspect of the OF movement that
insists on the independence of OF practice from the state and market (Tovey 1997).
One issue on which SPTN-HPS and other members of the partially engaged
group, for instance, Sekti Muda and Mursyidul Hadi Islamic boarding school, takes
a firm stance is food sovereignty, particularly seed sovereignty, which is defined as
farmers’ rights to access, reproduce, and save seeds (Kloppenburg 2010). There is
insucient clarity in OF regulations on the issue of what constitutes organic seeds
(BSN 2016), while Law No.12/1992, the Plant Cultivation System in Indonesia, makes
it illegal for farmers to use non-state-registered seeds (President of the Republic of
Indonesia 1992). Thus, organic farmers are liable to be prosecuted for attempting
to become more independent by storing and using their own seeds, even though,
simultaneously, the state encourages the use of local resources in OF (BSN 2016).
Similar to the actors in the disengaged group, the justice aspect in OF is paramount
for the sustainability of OF according to them. To address this problem, actors who
belong to the partially engaged group consider OF as an entry point for engaging
in the critical discussion of the current agricultural system with the young people.
They also attempt to take advantage of current decentralized governance structures,
using village funds as a resource for developing OF from the bottom-up in a way
that engages with the aspirations of farmers.
Decentralization was a significant milestone in the governance of agriculture
following the fall of President Suharto in 1998, as mentioned in Section 2. The
shift in political power and control over budgets allowed government ocials
to pursue regional interests (Nordholt 2012; Mietzner 2013; Nasution 2016). In
a conversation with Eka Herdiana, a government ocial at the department of
agriculture of Tasikmalaya regency, on December 8 2017, he stated that the regency
of Tasikmalaya in West Java decided to emphasize the production of organic rice
and this is reflected in the provincial government’s budget and active support
provided for marketing. In addition, the enactment of Village Law (No 6/2014)
gave villages a voice in how village funds were used, and thereby increasing their
participation in influencing agricultural development at the village level (Vel and
Bedner 2015). Therefore, village-level governance could be a platform where farmers,
local grassroots OF movements, and the government meet. Nevertheless, a large
proportion of the village development budget originates and requires approval
from the central government, and this limits the autonomy that villages have for
bottom-up agricultural development (Green 2005). In addition, continuation in village
development priorities could also be an issue, as village head is a political position,
so that the agenda between village head candidates might dier. Despite competition
between government ocials at dierent administrative levels for the exploitation
of natural resources and the cases of funds mismanagement in the decentralization
process in Indonesia (Tsing 2003; Fox et al. 2005), according to the actors in the partially
engaged group, village governments remain important potential cooperation partners,
since agricultural areas are mostly located in rural areas. Therefore, on the one hand,
the current technocratic and market-driven government policy restricts local OF
initiatives; on the other hand, the decision-making process in decentralization oers
OF actors the opportunity to influence policy-making and its implementation at
local level.
As described above, the disengaged and partially engaged groups adopt dierent
strategies to reconcile the convictions of OF pioneers with government policies and,
it could be argued, to overcome the negative stigma previously attached to OF
movements (Lähdesmäki et al. 2019). By contrast, there are some actors who make
use of the legal framework for OF (i.e., third-party certification and OF standards) as
an entry point into the organic market, but do not consider themselves to be part of
the organic movement. These actors belong to what we identify as the fully engaged
group. In principal, their notion of sustainability is similar to the national government,
where OF provides better economic opportunity for farmers in the future. Within
the group, the farmers’ association Gapoktan is influential in terms of the number
of network links to other actors, with whom it exchanges information, agricultural
inputs, and seeds. However, similar to the local organic market community, Gapoktan
exhibits a low degree of betweenness centrality, which suggests limitations to its
influence in the network. Unlike many members of the partially engaged group
and all members of the disengaged group, members of the fully engaged group do
not consider OF as being opposed to conventional farming, and thereby maintain
their dependence on government support for both the production and marketing of
organic food products.
7. Policy Implications
We agree that sustainability as a concept loses its analytical rigor when it is
used uncritically. The explicit accounts on actors who define it and its definition are
prerequisites to address the sustainability of OF. Institutional analysis at the meso
level that focuses on the governance of OF highlights the contradiction between
centralized governance structures in the agricultural sector and the government’s
stance that OF should prioritize the use of locally available resources and knowledge.
This characteristic can compromise the potential of OF to address the shortcomings in
the current agricultural sector, as described above. Institutional analysis at the micro
level that focuses on the social networks of organic actors elaborates the multiplicity of
perceptions, positionalities, and rationales enacted by dierent actors. In the context
of the pervasive influence of the Indonesian state in regulating OF, our analysis
showcases the dierent strategies based on dierent degrees and types of interactions
between non- and governmental actors. According to this two-level analysis, dierent
notions of sustainability of OF are enacted by dierent actors. Particular narratives
refer to either the justice aspect in sustainability related to the access and control over
OF practices promoted by OF activists or on the ecological modernization promoted
by the state. Given the influence of non-governmental actors in the networks, the
social justice narrative cannot simply be subsumed under the market creation and
technological fix narratives. Therefore, the institutionalization of OF in Indonesia,
which is illustrated by the creation of OF policies and standards as we argued above,
does not completely push the practices and views of OF as social movement to the
margin as also pointed out by Edwards (2013). Our findings support the argument
that to make progress in SDGs, the implementation and formulation of policies in
sustainable agriculture depend on ”societal debates and social movements that apply
pressure to governments and institutions” (Eyhorn et al. 2019, p. 254).
Despite the existing tensions, we argue there are spaces for negotiation between
the civil society and government, which could potentially lead to the formulation of
more coherent OF policies that can accommodate the diversity of goals and strategies
among OF actors. One option would be to explore the alternative decision-making
mechanisms available in the context of decentralization. The aim should be, for
each type of decision, to identify the appropriate decision-making administrative
level, so that decisions take account of the interests and perspectives of individual
actors and help them achieve their goals. Secondly, as farmlands are predominantly
located in rural Indonesia, cooperation and coordination between the MoA and the
Ministry of Village could help facilitate OF development in a way that captures the
aspirations of farmers. Further study of the relation between village governance
and OF institutions could contribute to the future development of OF in a form that
is not only more inclusive and locally-driven, but also in alignment with current
government OF policy, wider sustainable development goals, and the commitment
to decentralization.
This research was funded by the German Federal Ministry for Research and
Education (BMBF), grant number 031B0233, Research for Sustainable Development, funding
line “Bioeconomy as societal transformation”.
Language editing by Andrew Halliday is highly appreciated. We thank
participants at the 1st IndORGANIC Workshop ‘The State of Organic Farming on Java’
Yogyakarta, 8–9 December 2017. Special thanks to Kristian Tamtomo from the University
of Atma Jaya for jointly facilitating the Net-Map exercise. We also thank two anonymous
reviewers for their constructive feedback and suggestions for improving the overall arguments
and structure of the paper.
Conflicts of Interest:
The authors declare no conflict of interest. The founding sponsors had
no role in the design of the study; in the collection, analyses, or interpretation of data; in the
writing of the manuscript, and in the decision to publish the results.
Appendix A
Figure A1.
The social network that was drawn by participants of group 1 in
the workshop.
Figure A2.
The social network that was drawn by participants of group 2 in
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Organic agriculture has developed in Indonesia since the 1980s due to the work of various pioneer social movement organizations and as a reaction to the ecological and socio-economic problems arising from the Green Revolution. In the twenty-first century, organic agriculture has undergone standardization and market expansion, following the dominant agroeconomic trajectory. This article discusses the way three pioneer organic organizations in the Yogyakarta region have reacted to these developments. The findings show two divergent reactions, with one organization resistant to market expansion, while the others are more open to it due to their funding needs. However, all three share tensions regarding issues of fairness in market relations. These tensions reveal unarticulated socio-structural issues that tend to be overlooked in the current trend towards marketization in organic agriculture. The move away from its social movement foundations leads to laments that ‘organic has lost its way’. This article argues that the tensions illustrate issues voiced by the conventionalization debate in organic agriculture and that these issues should be articulated to reclaim the transformative potential of organic as a social movement in Indonesia.
Full-text available
This paper contributes to the discourse on food policy, particularly in relation to organic farming in Indonesia. Organic farming was first adopted by non-state actors in Indonesia, by faith-based organisations and then by small farmer associations, while the state support for organic agriculture followed at a later date. The three groups, represented in this study by three case studies, adopt different positions with regard to the definition of organic agriculture and its relevance to food self-sufficiency, food security and food sovereignty. For Bina Sarana Bhakti Foundation (BSB), organic farming is both a spiritual worldview and a practical philosophy. For the Indonesian Peasant Union (SPI), organic agriculture foremost is a political tool to resist global capitalist agriculture. Despite their very different outlooks, both these two civil society organisations see organic agriculture as a post-materialist enterprise directed towards explicitly social-political goals. By contrast, the government’s engagement in organic agriculture, although laced with evocative phrases such as “back to nature”, is driven primarily by visions of developing a new niche market for Indonesian exports. The Indonesian State adopts a one-dimensional productivist definition that excludes different meanings and traditions of organic farming. The reduction of the meaning of ‘organic’ to ‘organically certified products’ excludes farmers who consider that they are practicing organic agriculture. We conclude that there is a strong case to be made that the State should relax its regulatory grip on the organic sector, to create room for sorely needed innovation and cooperation among the different actors involved.
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Agricultural practices need to change to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. How to achieve the SDGs is heavily contested. Here we propose a policy framework that triggers the required transition. Organic agriculture, although not a silver bullet, is a useful component in such strategy.
This first sustained ethnographic study of organic agriculture outside the United States traces its meanings, practices, and politics in two nations typically considered worlds apart: Latvia and Costa Rica. Situated on the frontiers of the European Union and the United States, these geopolitically and economically in-between places illustrate ways that international treaties have created contradictory pressures for organic farmers. Organic farmers in both countries build multispecies networks of biological and social diversity and create spaces of sovereignty within state and suprastate governance bodies. Organic associations in Central America and Eastern Europe face parallel challenges in balancing multiple identities as social movements, market sectors, and NGOs while finding their place in regions and nations reshaped by world events.
Pioneers of organic farming often faced social challenges as their innovative ideas on agriculture not only encountered opposition in the conventional farming community, but led to stigmatization of organic farmers as social deviants. In this study, we examine what kind of stigma management strategies pioneer organic farmers engage with in order to cultivate an alternative positive image of themselves. Our research is based on the interviews with 14 pioneer organic farmers. Based on a qualitative analysis of the interviews, we provide a model of those strategies that the creation from a stigmatized to valued identity requires. Our study increases the understanding of the institutionalization process of organic farming by demonstrating how pioneer organic farmers overcame the negative attributes associated with their farmer identities while actively building a new agricultural category which was different from that of conventional farming.
Without much preparation, Indonesia, in 2000, at a stroke replaced the previous system of centralized government and development planning with a wide range of decentralization programs. The reforms gave greater authority, political power, and financial resources directly to regencies and municipalities, bypassing the provinces. The powers transferred include those of executing a wide range of responsibilities in the areas of health, primary and middle-level education, public works, environment, communication, transport, agriculture, manufacturing, and other economic sectors. At the same time, the government replaced the antiquated cash-based, single-entry system of public finance with a modern double-entry accounting system that uses a single treasury account; is performance based; and has transparent management of the public treasury, tight expenditure and financial controls with performance indicators, computerized reporting, and a tightly scheduled auditing system. On the positive side, unlike in many developing and transition countries, the decentralization program in Indonesia has not caused major political or economic problems. However, the decentralization program was ill prepared and not carried out in a logical order for two reasons. First, the capacity of subnational governments to produce public and private goods, increase productivity and employment, and promote economic growth in their jurisdictions, was not increased. Because of the long tradition of centralization, local government never built the capacity to carry out economic planning and undertake initiatives to promote local economic growth. Before the reform, the local governments had mainly functioned as implementing agencies of national policies and programs. Second, the number of good financial managers, as required by the new laws of public treasury and auditing, was also limited and needed to be trained. The rising revenues of local governments do not follow their increasing government functions to promote economic development that could potentially cause fiscal imbalances.