PRAKARSA: The ASEAN Agriculture & Fishery Sector Has Not Been Equitable

The Ministry of Trade (Kemendag) noted that world demand for palm products began to move up, marked by the increase in Crude Palm Oil (CPO) prices in July 2020 compared to the previous month. (BETWEEN PHOTOS/Wahdi Septiawan/pras) – The PRAKARSA and Tax and Fiscal Justice Asia (TAFJA) released research results on global value chains (GVC) for small farmers and fishermen in ASEAN. Indonesia with palm oil and fishery commodities, Vietnam with coffee and rice commodities, and the Philippines and Thailand with rice commodities.

Of the four commodities studied, in general, the condition of small farmers and fishermen in these four countries is in an unfavorable position.

Economic and Fiscal Policy Researcher The PRAKARSA, Panji TN Putra explained, of the four countries, Vietnam has a backward and forward linkage index that is greater than other countries in almost all commodities.

"Vietnam's agriculture and fisheries have a higher index, Vietnam's forward linkage value is 2,82, which means that when there is an increase in input from agricultural and fishery commodities, it is projected to be able to increase Vietnam's economy by 2,82 million US dollars," he explained in his statement, Thursday (29/9/2022).

The results of this study also show that the agricultural and fishery sectors are the main sectors in driving the economy of Thailand and Vietnam. So from the results of the GVC Participation Index, from all sectors in the four countries, Thailand and Vietnam have a higher GVC participation index than Indonesia and the Philippines.

"This means that Thai and Vietnamese agricultural and fishery products are able to enter the global value chain," said Panji.

Meanwhile, Indonesia's position still dominates as the largest palm oil producing country in the world, followed by Malaysia. However, the condition of oil palm farmers in Indonesia is still experiencing various problems such as multidimensional poverty, labor violations, problematic work contracts and lack of access to health.

"Besides that, there are other problems that may also be found in other sectors that these farmers and small communities only contribute at the lower level, and in value they do not get big profits," said Panji.

Meanwhile, in terms of gender, Panji explained, female palm oil workers are in a position that only becomes assistant workers for male workers. "This makes the position of women weak when compared to male workers," he explained.

This research further states that Indonesia is also the largest producer of the fisheries sector in the ASEAN region with an annual average production reaching 6,42 million metric tons in 2019. "So this is indeed quite a large supply for the ASEAN region," said the Research and Knowledge Manager. the PRAKARSA, Eka Afrina Djamhari.

In terms of the value chain, fishermen starting from small, medium and large supply their fish to the Fish Auction Place (TPI), through this TPI there is an open fish auction process to buyers or collectors which is then distributed to fish processing companies and then distributed to consumers. both large-scale such as restaurants and household consumers. In addition to domestic consumption, the catch is also exported to several countries, one of which is China with a fairly large value.

Eka explained that of all the actors in the fisheries sector, small fishermen are the actors who receive the smallest value from the existing value chain. This happens because small fishermen generally have limited capital, low wages and traditional fishing gear, so this affects their level of welfare.

Not only happened to small fishermen, medium and large fishermen also encountered their own obstacles. For example, those who have the ability to catch fish up to 30 thousand metric tons are not able to sail for too long and maximize their catch. This is because it does not have high technology, the costs to go to sea are quite high, there is no refrigeration machine to store the catch until it lands and is ready to be sold.

"As for the big fishermen, they have obstacles in the form of complicated licensing and also other problems that are almost the same as medium fishermen," said Eka.

Another problem that is also revealed in this study is that ship workers who sail using medium and large ships still get violations in the form of no guarantee of safety, health insurance, low wages, and no work contract.

Meanwhile, on the other hand, the owners of fish processing companies are the actors who get the highest scores compared to other actors in the fishery sector. "Because what they have produced is a much wider market," said Eka. Meanwhile, in terms of gender, said Eka, female workers in the fishery sector are in a much lower and weaker position. "Women are much more vulnerable than men, women in the fishing sector occupy very low-paid jobs and high working hours, sometimes they can even work up to 17 hours a day and do not get paid in cash but in fish," he concluded.

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