Prabowo: “Food sovereignty must be our joint aspiration and effort”

RI Minister of Defense Prabowo Subianto, and President Joko Widodo at the site of the future Food Estate. (Photo: Doc. SETKAB RI)

IO – In response to dangers arising from the pandemic, many countries have curtailed the export of certain food commodities, in order to ensure that their own food supply is sufficient. This is a common anticipatory step to forestall any global food crisis. The Food and Agriculture Organization (“FAO”) has warned that such an event is likely to happen during this global pandemic, and our own Government was thus duly energized. It has taken a number of steps to ensure that the nation maintains its food security as part of national defense, especially at such a dangerous time. 

Therefore, RI Minister of Defense Prabowo Subianto has declared that forestry is an essential part of national defense in terms of food resilience and material security; most importantly, food sovereignty should become a joint aspiration and effort to manifest into reality. Everyone must support national food sovereignty with various relevant programs, sufficient fertile land and human resources, and the support of suitable science and technology. “We are currently developing new rice bowls outside of Java to add to our national logistical reserves. This will help us cover our own needs better and reduce our dependence on imports,” he said in a video conference of the Open Senate Meeting and 57th Anniversary of Gadjah Mada University’s Faculty of Forestry on Friday (23/10/2020). 

Prabowo stated that proper utilization of forest resources will ensure that we have a strong life-support system, one that is reflected in a wise and environmentally-friendly forest management system. Such a system balances economics and environment, including both food and energy sovereignty. Utilizing forest potential for these two types of sovereignty will deliver welfare to the people, especially for those who live near the forest. “Our data shows that no less than 60 million Indonesian citizens live from and depend on forest resources. Therefore, I have great expectations that the Gadjah Mada University Faculty of Forestry can play an active role in optimizing the forestry sector in order to help achieve one of our national strategic objectives in food,” he said. 

Prabowo further stated that President Joko Widodo has appointed the Ministry of Defense to protect our food security. He named the Ministry as the party in charge of the food estate project in Central Kalimantan, North Sumatra, and several other regions. “The President wishes to develop a strong, holistic defense that includes the strengthening of both military and non-military dimensions. In other words, the Government, in this case the President, is strongly aware that the rights of the citizens to get their food needs satisfied is a strategic issue that can make or break our country,” he said. 

The Minister further stated that we need to quickly establish this part of our national defense through strategic logistical reserves. “It is true that having sufficient food will not make you win battles directly, but armies have been defeated from lack of food too often. Strong weaponry system and infrastructure, if not complemented with sufficient food for all the citizens, mean very little. Therefore, food has been involved in many strategies meant to control a country. Food dependence will make it hard for one country to escape the clutches of another. The party with poor – or even zero – logistics is almost certain to lose the war. Without logistics, you simply cannot win any battle, let alone a war. This is a historical fact,” he said. 

Prabowo believes that what remains of our tropical forests need to be maintained and preserved. On the other hand, we might as well make use of hitherto unused damaged forests and those in critical condition as productive land. “This is an opportunity for Indonesia: We have damaged forest land that we can use. This is how forestry becomes an opportunity for us to resolve our national problem. I believe that in the future, Indonesia’s forestry must be utilized to generate business opportunities and breakthroughs, and to generate extensive job opportunities that will attract our young to work in forestry,” he said. 

President RI Joko Widodo, himself an alumnus of Gadjah Mada U’s Faculty of Forestry, also made virtual attendance. The President expressed his appreciation to his Alma Mater for having generated many alumni who follow the Faculty’s motto of “iso lan gelem kerjo” (“willing and able to work”) and serve the country, the nation, and the people devotedly. They implement this motto by sincere dedication and devotion in their individual spheres of work. 

Jokowi stated that the science of forestry is central to the management of the relationship between the people and nature, specifically between the people and the forests. This relationship has evolved from the first phase of having the forest provide basic needs of the people in traditional societies who live around it. The second phase is to have the forest serve as expansion area for crop and livestock farming. In the third phase, the forest serves as the source of materials for industrial societies. Fourth, post-industrial societies use the forest as a basis for community services, especially for a source of clean water, oxygen, and biodiversity. 

The President stated that both the people and the forest have evolved in terms of their role and contribution towards each other. “Traditional societies viewed the forest as provider of their basic needs, including food, building materials, clothing, and medicine. Agrarian societies viewed the forest as a mere expansion of their farms and fields. Industrial societies viewed the forest merely as a warehouse for industrial materials, while post-industrial societies viewed it as the provider of community services that we must preserve. We are currently wavering between the agrarian, industrial, and post-industrial views of our forests. The Faculty of Forestry is challenged to develop innovations during this era of disruptions, to hack the disruption and utilize it to make leaps in developing Indonesia’s forestry instead,” he said. 

Jokowi expressed his hope and faith that Gadjah Mada U’s Faculty of Forestry can find the meeting point of these seemingly opposing viewpoints. It is their duty to research and develop new concepts that will benefit both the people and the forest. Among the many progresses that we all need to consider is the use of digital precision forestry technology. With the help of technology, the spirit of utilizing the forest properly to benefit traditional, agrarian, and industrial needs of society without sacrificing its preservation and diversity is possible. (Dan)