The Ineffective Protection Of Rice Farming Land


In 2009 the Government of Indonesia and the Parliament has passed Law No. 41/2009 about Protection of Sustainable Food Agriculture Land. This law is intended to restrain the conversion of productive agricultural land, which will threaten national food security. This law mandates that every Local Government in Indonesia, in assigning regional spatial planning, must allocate land for food agriculture that cannot be converted. This land is called “sustainable food agricultural land (SFAL)” If the land has been designated as SFAL, it is protected and prohibited from being converted, in accordance with Article 44 Paragraph 1 of the Law. Those who dare to convert the SFAL’s functions will be sentenced to a maximum of 5 (five) years in prison and a maximum fine of Rp1,000,000,000 (one billion rupiah).

This law seems to show the Government’s seriousness in protecting and maintaining food agricultural land to achieve national food security. But in fact this law is in effective. The local government has difficulty in determining the land to be turned into SFAL due to high needs – or even fighting — from other development sectors on land, such as the needs of the industrial, mining, housing, office, and infrastructure sectors. Farmers themselves tend to reject the formation of SFAL, mainly because land prices continue to rise due to the large of its demand for. If their land is designated as SFAL – and cannot be converted – this will cause economic losses for farmers, especially for farmers whose land is located in strategic areas.

As an illustration, our research in the District of Bangau Dua, Indramayu, West Java – where the farmer’s land has potentially to be used as SFAL – indicated the tendency of farmer to reject the ban on land conversion. The Chi square test for 100 samples drawn proportionally from eight villages in the District of Bangau Dua found that the characteristics of farmers tended to strengthen their negative views on SFAL, in which it meant the existence of farmer’s resistance to the planning of SFAL formation. The only variable related to the positive outlook for SFAL planning is the level of education and work. The higher level of farmer’s education tends to the stronger resistance to the SFAL; and conversely the lower education level of farmers tends to accept SFAL policies. This is not surprising because by the higher level of education, the farmers see opportunities to use the land in various productive activities outside the agricultural sector. Oppositely, by the lower level of education, the farmer could not probably see any opportunities for land use outside agricultural productive activities.

This is in line with other findings that employment opportunities outside the agricultural sector strengthen their resistance to SFAL, because they can utilize land for activities in the non-agricultural sector. In contrast, farmers who do not see employment opportunities outside the agricultural sector, they tend to receive SFAL (Table 1).


Table 1. The Relationship of Farmer Characteristic Variable to the Negative Tendency

of SFAL Formation


No Variable Chi Square (X2) p-value
1 Farmer’s Age 0,022 0,881
2 Number of Family Member 0,603 0,437
3 Farming Experience 0,108 0,743
4 Level of Education 9,189 0,010**
5 Size of Owned Land 2,070 0,355
6 Farming Revenue 3,101 0,212
7 Outside Farming Work 3,988 0,046**
8 Satisfaction of Seed Aids 0,533 0,465

Note     : **Strongly Significant

Sources: Processed from Apriyanti (2018)


Thus, the availability of alternative jobs encourages farmers to leave the agricultural sector. Farmers of Subak Jadi, Tabanan, Bali have a strong tendency to convert, and even tend to sell their land. More than 70% of Subak Jadi farmers agree and strongly agree that land conventions can solve farmers’ economic problems; that agricultural land is a commodity to be traded; and that agricultural land is not able to produce the expected production. In line with this trend, as many as 57 percent of sample farmers agree and strongly agree that agricultural land is more useful for housing (Table 2).

Tabl2 2. Farmer Orientation toward Agricultural Land

No. Indicator SA A NA SNA
Res % Res % Res % Res %
1 Land conversion is able to solve the economic problem 17 15,18 68 60,71 25 22,32 1 1,79
2 Agricultural land is an economic commodity 27 24,11 58 51,79 21 18,75 6 5,36
3 Land could not afford to produce expected yield 9 8,04 86 76,79 16 14,29 1 0,89
4 Land for housing is more benefited 16 4,29 60 53,57 31 27,68 5 4,46

Sources: Processed from Dwipradnyana, 2014, hal. 85


The industrialization and land use change tend to affect farmers in the surrounding areas, even though their land is still unchanged. Young people who have been educated above senior high school – or in the same level – or higher in Gekbrong and Warung Kondang Subdistrict, Cianjur Regency are in a zone of non-commitment to their land; whereas their parents are landowner farmers, and these young men will be the heirs of productive agricultural land. More clearly, from the 100 young people sampled drawn by snow ball technique from 11 villages in the two districts, more than 60% were in the moderate zone (non-commitment) to their land whether to continue the farming practice or selling their land. Even though they have not been exposed to the industrialization process, but they already know that many of the lands around them have been converted (Maman et al., 2018).

Actually, the farmers’ orientation has changed, is no longer subsistence (farming is merely to meet personal and family needs), but they prefer to adopt economic rationality and profit. Meanwhile, the agriculture (rice) revenue is very small, under economic rationality. The tendency of farmers to switch to other economic sectors – especially for those who have opportunities to do activities in the non-agricultural sector – is strongly reasonable. Based on the ratio of rental values obtained by farmers to those who move outside the agricultural sector, it is sharply difference. In 1996 the difference was 1: 622 for housing; 1: 500 for industrial estate; and 1:14 for tourism areas (Irawan, 2005). If the comparison is done now, the possibility of differences will be sharper, and will reduce furtherly the interest of farming.

Factually, farmers who dare to convert agricultural land, they get more income even though it is temporary. The income of farmers in Jaten Village, Karang Anyar, Central Java increased by Rp 2,291 million per year, and an increase of Rp 378 thousand per year for farmers in Jumantomo Village, Karang Anyar, after converting their farming land. The income of farmers outside the agricultural sector after land conversion is totally Rp 8.568 per year in Jaten Village, and Rp 1.52 million in Jumantomo Village (Barokah, et al., 2012).

The Asmara’s research results (2011) in Mekarwangi Village, Bogor City, West Java showed the same tendency. By using the “Future Value Formula,” to compare farmers’ income in 2000 before land convention and in 2010 after land conversion and conducting business activities in the non-agricultural sector, the 50% of sample farmers have a 100% increase in their income per year.

In addition, the businesses in the agricultural sector have the opportunity to face a variety of risks, such as crop failure due to pests & diseases, drought, floods, or other natural disasters. In the other sides, agricultural business is hard work, dirty, and takes long time to earn. By this condition, the agricultural sector is not attractive, although it is strongly needed. For this reason, it is necessary to do a systematic mitigation to save the agricultural sector. The SFAL must be established and benefited for all parties, including when the land prices are very high. ***


Asmara, Andi. “Pendapatan Petan Setelah Konversi Lahan: Studi Kasus Kelurahan Mekarwangi, Kota Bogor.” Universitas Islam Negeri Syarif Hidayatullah Jakarta, 2011.

Apriyanti, Liana. “Respons Petani Terhadap Rencana Pembentukan Lahan Pertanian Pangan Berkelanjutan Di Kecamatan Bangodua Kabupaten Indramayu,” Skripsi Prodi Agribisnis FST UIN Jakarta, 2018.

Barakah, Ummu. Dampak Konversi Lahan Pertanian Terhadap Pendapatan Rumah Tangga Petani Di Kabupaten Karanganyar. Solo, 2012.

Dwipradnyana, I Made Mahadi. “Faktor-Faktor Yang Mempengaruhi Konversi Lahan Pertanian Dan Pengaruhnya Bagi Kesejahteraan Petani: Studi Kasus Di Subak Jadi, Kediri, Tabanan.” Udayana University, 2014.

Irawan, Bambang. “Konversi Lahan Sawah: Potensi Dampak, Pola Pemanfaatannya, Dan Faktor Determinan.” Forum Penelitian Agro Ekonomi 23, No. 1 (2005): 1–18.

Maman, Ujang  et al., “From Single to Dual System: Initiating the Model of Wet Rice Field Management to Optimize Staple Food Availability, Journal of Engineering and Applied Science, Vol 13 No. 21 (2018): 9259-9268