About 70 percent of the poor around the world are in rural areas and about 80 percent of them work in agriculture, while access to agricultural land has increasingly narrowed. As a result, young people aged 15-24 years become open unemployed and underemployed. Therefore, the policy of full employment in the agricultural sector should be considered by the government. One of them is by giving access to land ownership. That was delivered by a rural sociologist from Netherlands, Prof. Ben Bhite, Ph.D., in a public lecture Rural, Youth and Future Farming at UGM Faculty of Social and Political Science, Friday (20/1).
The Emeritus professor of the Institutes of Social Studies, Hague, Netherlands, who since the 70's has been conducting research in rural Indonesia, said that the future of agriculture is increasingly threatened by a lack of young people’s interest to become farmers. Especially in school, the youths are not taught to be a farmer. "Children who help their parents at the farm after or before school are considered negative. I think this is the wrong perception that has always adopted the concept of the West," he said.
He said if the government wants the young people to create many jobs, this has to be followed by government providing employment opportunities. Because to create new jobs, most of the youth have to be employees at least for decades to gain experience in order to establish a business in the future. Therefore, young people who are learning and helping his/her parents in farming are considered beneficial. But what happens next is that it is not easy for them to work immediately.
Based on his research in the field, Ben White saw agriculture is now controlled more by the older generation. In the meantime the younger generation is difficult to obtain agricultural land. The youths are at least have to wait if there is an allotment of land from his parents or they have to wait until the parents passed away. "At least they have to wait 30-40 years to become a farmer," he said.
What is more alarming, says Ben White, agriculture has not become a promising source of income, so that many farmers choose to sell their land. "About 80 percent of farmers in Java do not own land anymore because it has been sold," he said.
He thought a government policy is needed to respond to this problem. At the very least the Government provides land access for the youth. "At Kulon Progo in the past, unemployed youths could just come to the village chief to ask for land to be cultivated," he said.
He argues, small-scale agricultural development opportunities for the youth is helpful to alleviate the problems of poverty, but must be followed by access to land ownership given by the state. In addition, small-scale agriculture also supports the preservation of the earth than the large-scale agriculture with more forest destruction.