Agritalk: Why Does Sustainable Agriculture Remain a Challenge

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Agritalk: Why Does Sustainable Agriculture Remain a Challenge

The agricultural sector is one of the most important sectors in most country in the world, especially in Indonesia. As stated by Ir. Soekarno that “Food is a matter of the death and life of a nation”. Agriculture and nation are both interdependent. Recently the agricultural sector has become an important issue discussed by the nation’s leaders. As discussed in the G20 OSAKA SUMMIT assesses the need to maximize the use of technology in the agricultural sector to increase food production and reduce food waste.

To achieve this goal world leaders and experts agree that there is a need for development in the concept of sustainable agriculture which can not only improve food yield but be safe for the environment. Agricultural systems that stimulate the production of grains and other agricultural products to meet food and other needs for humans require a large number of chemical inputs that have been known to result in the impact of rapidly decreasing land carrying capacity in a relatively short time. In addition, land and water pollution as a consequence of the use of chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides can not be avoided anymore.

Picture  1. Osaka G20 High Level Conference 2019. Source: News.detik.com

Continuing agriculture according to Castillo (1992) is the use of land, water, and plant material resources for sustainable production businesses that produce agricultural products economically and profitably. Sustainable agriculture means that agricultural business can be carried out on the relevant land resources continuously and profitably. sustainable agriculture emphasizes the preservation of environmental quality, the balance of agroecosystems, and the preservation of biodiversity. Other parties such as processing industry players, suppliers of agricultural products, and market players, may interpret sustainable agriculture as an agricultural business that is able to supply high-quality products, safe for consumption, stable and continuous all the time.

The Problem of Sustainable Agriculture in Indonesia is often considered as a hot issue. As reported by CNN.com. population of peoples is increasing every year in Indonesia. This condition also threatens the productivity of the agricultural sector agricultural sector even though contributes greatly to Indonesia’s Gross Domestic Product. In addition to the problem of diminishing human resources, the availability of suitable agricultural land for agricultural commodities is also a problem in Indonesia. Both of these things make domestic food stability very easy to shift in a negative direction. The Relationship Between Human Resources, Land Availability, and Food Security can be illustrated by equilateral triangles that support each other.

According to Edward (2000).thare are several challenges in developing sustainable agriculture including:

  1. Make people understand the reality of the need for sustainable agriculture.
  2. Make people want to try to prove certain technologies can increase agricultural output, eliminate hunger, and conserve natural resources and the environment.
  3. Making a socioeconomic use of resources that improve people’s lives so they want to adopt the technology.
  4. Creating linkages of experts in this field between developing and developed countries to support communication in the continuous exchange of information.

These four challenges can be overcome by Indonesia if environmental factors, human resources and food security are properly developed. Sustainable agriculture is often described as an ecologically appropriate activity that does not or has a negative impact on natural ecosystems, or even improves the quality of the environment and natural resources on which agricultural activities depend. Usually, this is achieved by protecting, recycling, replacing, and/or maintaining natural resource bases such as land, water, biodiversity, and wildlife that contribute to the protection of natural capital. Synthetic fertilizers can be used to supplement natural inputs if needed. In sustainable agriculture, the use of chemicals known to be harmful to soil organisms, soil structure, and biodiversity is avoided or reduced to a minimum.

Picture 4.Organic vs Synthetic Fertilizer Source : Milorganite.com

Social sustainability is related to the quality of life of those who work and live on agriculture, as well as the surrounding community. This includes equal income or income for different stakeholders in the agricultural production chain. In the context of high unemployment, sustainable agriculture promotes the distribution of agricultural value-added to more members of the community through more use of available labor and will increase social cohesion and justice. Proper treatment of workers and choosing to buy materials locally rather than buying from afar are also elements of social sustainability (Francile,1999).

Whereas food security itself can be achieved by implementing an increase in food production, which in turn requires farmers access to agricultural inputs to increase productivity, increase knowledge and skills and create a food availability information system. Regarding the food availability system that is owned by Indonesia, the District Level Agricultural Development Strategic Command (KOSTRATANI). KOSTRATANI is the center of agricultural development activities at the sub-district level, which is the optimization of the duties, functions, and roles of the Agricultural Counseling Center (BPP) in realizing national food sovereignty (Suyamto and Zaini, 2019) guarantee the availability of strategic food commodities in the next 3 months to meet the food needs of 267 million people.

There are so many things that can be done by people who are still unable to get directly involved in agriculture. Among them are campaigns about conserving the use of clean water, reducing the use of plastics, and reducing the production of unnecessary food waste. In IAAS itself there is a SNAPFOOD campaign, namely the activity of promoting the culture of spending food through social media. After knowing the evidence of the potential benefits of sustainable agriculture, success can be achieved by taking into account environmental factors, human resources, and food security in a country in this case the country of Indonesia. The establishment of a good sustainable agriculture system can also trigger the development of many factors such as social and economic factors.

International Association of Students in Agricultural and Related Sciences (IAAS) is the World Biggest Student Association in The Field of Agriculture and Related Sciences. IAAS was founded in 1957 and started with only 8 member countries.For the last 60 years, IAAS has grown into a big organization with 53 member countries and more than 10,000 active members. IAAS Indonesia was found by Mr. Arif Satria on December 29th 1992. By the year of 2020, IAAS Indonesia has 11 Local Committees across the country with more than 1200 active members.

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