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Key to the sustainability of the agrarian system
Written by: Diego Laforge
Type of document: Video
This study was conducted in collaboration with Samdhana Institute - an Asian centre for social and environmental renewal based in Bogor, Indonesia - and VetAgro Sup - a public institution for higher education in agriculture and veterinary science under the supervision of the French Ministry of Agriculture at Clermont-Ferrand, France.
In 2017 the Indonesian government recognized, for the first time, the rights of nine indigenous communities to their customary forests called hutan adat. This is the logical outcome of the Constitutional Law No. 35/2013, which states that the customary forests are forests located in the territory of customary law communities and recognizes the customary forests as a new form of titled forest.
How does the customary management of the forest by an indigenous community, in land tenure conflict with successive stakeholders since the Dutch colony, ensure the sustainability of the agrarian system?
A territorial diagnosis was conducted in a Kasepuhan indigenous community of Banten, Indonesia where the community’s customary forests overlaps with the Gunung Halimun Salak National Park boundaries. Agronomic, social and economic data were collected with semistructured interviews in five villages of the same indigenous community.
The results show that customary management of the forest plays a key role in the sustainability of the agrarian system which protected forest provides irrigation to the wet rice fields, an agroforestry system which is a significant economic component of farming systems and a customary swidden cultivation system which conditions the agricultural calendar of wet rice fields.
The sustainability of the whole agrarian system can only be enhanced with the acknowledgement and protection of the customary forests which would increase land tenure security. However, the customary institutional structure might present some weaknesses regarding gender equality, justice and stability of the structure.
Diego Laforge is a Franco Peruvian agronomist based in Martinique.