Peasants and Policymakers, Agricultural transformation in Java under Suharto

University dissertation from Holmbergs

Abstract: Following the East Asian success story Indonesia also subscribed to a model with increased productivity, income and equity through modernisation of agriculture. When it was hit by a severe crisis in 1997, Indonesia was regarded as one of the up and coming tigers of Southeast Asia. The crisis indicated that something was seriously wrong in the structure of the economy necessitating a re-examination of the Indonesian model of development. This is done here through a closer look at the agricultural transformation process in Java under Suharto. Many a study was carried out prior to the crisis in order to explain the great success of the Indonesian regime, but once rice self sufficiency was achieved the interest of researchers waned and a complete image of agricultural transformation under Suharto was never formed. This book shows that Indonesia commenced the transformation process, but did not see it through and, as a consequence, the economy was investment driven rather than agriculturally led. It could be argued that the process stalled as a consequence of the farmers being averse to change and modernity but this book shows that he reason for the slowdown in change must be sought in the state’s actions since it was the driving force behind the transformation of agriculture. It also shows that the motives for change were urban rather than rural. The end result was that the development process was not dynamic enough to generate its own growth and Javanese agriculture was still vulnerable and the country could not sustain the blow when the crisis hit in 1997.