Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Indonesian Farmers Prosecuted for Seed

Indonesian farmers in Kediri regency have been punished for the breeding and stealing of seeds.

According to a report by, since 2003 around 10 peasant farmers have been sued or jailed after accusations by seed company PT BISI (Benih Inti Subur Intani) of illegal breeding and theft of seed. Other reports put the figure much higher.

The Aliansi Petani Indonesia (API) has been documenting the cases of its peasant members, whose case was recently presented during the workshop of the Asian Farmers' Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA) in Indonesia last month. Presented to the workshop by East Java Research and Development Coordinator Dawud, the cases show the serious problems associated with corporate monopolies over seed in regional and traditional farming communities.

According to the Case Documentation by Hira Jhamtani (Third World Network, TWN) and Dey Patria (researcher), farmers were issued with a warning early last year: "Do not be too creative, do not breed your own seed, or you will be prosecuted." The authors follow the experiences of Tukirin, a farmer who was given a suspended prison sentence and prohibited from planting his own corn seeds for one year. Further detail on Tukirin's case and the cases of others is provided in an additional Case Documentation, which provides information on incarcerations of several farmers as well as detailing costs for farmers producing seeds.

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