23 January, 2015

Modern Agriculture to Prevent Unnecessary Urbanization

This article was first published on Global Indonesian Voices, 6 November 2014. The original version of this article can be reached by clicking this link.

Urbanization, a world phenomenon

The misconception that life is always better in the city still prevails in Indonesia. Big cities, like Jakarta, seem to offer plenty economic opportunities and because of this, people are misled into thinking that every city dweller must have much better living standards than villagers. Strong desire to move up the economic ladder has sent villagers flocking to the urban jungle. However once they arrive in Jakarta, they are confronted with the harsh reality: life is expensive while money are not easy to find and jobs are scarce.

Urbanization is a complex world-wide phenomenon which is particularly rampant in the Third World countries. Addressing this challenge requires formulation of a comprehensive policy involving all sectors. Urbanization is not only the result of unbalanced development, but also a portrait of social insecurity. Furthermore, if left uncontrolled, it may lead to food scarcity because as more and more people leave their farming jobs, the production capacity will be affected as well.

At mid-century, only 17.8 percent of the Third World countries’ population lived in the cities. By 2000, the number has increased to over 40 percent. By 2030, almost 60 percent will live in the cities. The world will become predominately urban in less than two decades.

Urbanization in Third World countries is generally driven by overpopulation in the village which is not accompanied by opening of new agricultural land. Farmers do not have enough land to produce agricultural crops. There is no proper modernization of agriculture in the villages. Farmers still practice traditional method which can only yield low agricultural production.

Modern agriculture is the solution

Villagers will never think of leaving their homeland if agriculture gives them hopes. The government needs to respond with agricultural modernization. Farmers should be the main actors of agriculture. They should be invited to take part in agricultural modernization, a large scale application of modern technology to agriculture so they can switch from their current traditional method.

Agricultural modernization leads to the enhancement of crop production. The increase of agricultural production means there will be increase of the farmer’s income as well. This will make farmers feel more confident in facing their future. The government can make this happen with, for example, utilization of energized well-irrigation and fertilizer distribution.

Agricultural modernization can also be done by introduction of high yielding varieties of seeds for several major crops. The government needs to facilitate farmers so they are able to leave the traditional farming method and move to mechanization. Farmers also need a fair information about commodities market price. They have right to receive climate information to support their farming activities.

A solid and robust agriculture will instill new paradigm among the farmers. They will never think about moving to the city anymore. Farmers will instead continue to pursue wealth and happiness in their own land. In the long term, food security will be established and Indonesia will be less dependent on other countries.

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