In a bid to tackle unemployment and increase the nation’s food security level at the same time, the government said on Friday that it was in the process of finalizing a transmigration program involving organic farming.
According to Central Statistic Agency (BPS) data, Indonesia had 8.9 million unemployed and 35 million economically disadvantaged people as of last year.
At the same time, there are 75.5 million hectares of land that can be used for agriculture but so far, only 25.7 million hectares have been used for that purpose, according to Djoko Sidik Pramono, the director for community development and transmigration locations at the Ministry of Manpower and Transmigration.
The global “back to nature” movement provided the inspiration for the program, he said.
“The agriculture-based transmigration programs in the past failed to be as popular as the plantation-based transmigration programs. This was because farming products were less profitable than plantation products,” Djoko told reporters at the ministry.
In the 1980s, President Suharto introduced the agriculture-based transmigration program, in which people from Java were sent to areas in Kalimantan and Sumatra to become farmers.
Later, more people from various provinces moved to Sumatra and Kalimantan to work on plantations after the price of palm oil started to rise.
“Considering the recent global rise in consumption of organic products, we are now going to develop an organic agriculture-based transmigration program,” Djoko said.
The government hopes to reduce unemployment rates among skilled laborers by having educated people join the program.
“Organic agricultural products now mainly come from the United States, Australia and Europe,” he added.
“We hope there will be many who would be willing to participate in the transmigration program because [the crops] sell at a high price.”
The program is also aimed at increasing the nation’s food security level, the official said, as it will help the country become less dependent on imported food commodities.
The government plans to designate 195 transmigration settlement areas all over Indonesia as part of the program.
Of those, 44 would be used for organic agriculture while the remainder would be used for conventional farming.
“As soon as the details of this program have been finalized, we are going to bring it to the people’s attention and we hope to employ 12,500 transmigrants each year from all over Indonesia,” Djoko said.