What does National Peasant Day mean to urban society?

Wahyubinatara Fernandez of RMI - Rimbawan Muda Indonesia-
Thursday, October 5, 2017

ILC Asia member in Indonesia, RMI (Rimbawan Muda Indonesia) has a slightly different approach to celebrate the National Peasant Day which falls on the 24th of September of every year. By targeting to urban society, RMI raises their awareness on the peasants'...

By engaging volunteers from Relawan4Life, RMI walked together with more than 7,000 peasants, men and women, old and young, during the 2017’s National Peasant Day celebration. Besides joining the main front in the march toward the Presidential Palace, they were divided into five groups of two, spreading around the perimeter of the main front, and handing out peasant’ products to Jakarta’ citizen nearby.

       

The mission was to (re)introduce the agrarian struggle to the target group (urban-middle class citizen), creating space for them to understand the presence of thousands of peasants before their eyes, and to recognize peasant’ struggle which has long been misunderstood and disconnected from the urban life. The other mission we brought was to find out how much the agrarian issues touched the target group.

      

Basically, the agrarian issues (e.g. land grabbing, land domination by big corporation and the country, lack of protection to local farmers’ products) which put forward by the KNPA (National Committee for Agrarian Reform) throughout the long march were related to a matter of survival for all Indonesian; not only for peasants, activists, and CSOs—yet this fact is hardly recognised by groups beyond the aforementioned ones. At the very least, it relates directly to the products that everyone consumes everyday: the food on our plates. Therefore, to relate these issues to the urban-middle class group is relevant. Advocacy-wise, these traget groups are potential for agrarian struggle because they are media literate, and this has been proven to contribute to political changes.

During the activity, the volunteers threw some words to the target group, and ask what came on their mind when they heard those words—“The Top of Mind Game” (the words are: land, forest, river, indigenous peoples, and peasant). The feedback shows how the targets can hardly connect the words they heard to the National Peasant Day, even though the volunteer had told them that the activity is a part of the National Peasant Day celebration. In other words, the target group coming from urban areas cannot relate the importance of the National Peasant Day celebration to their daily life.

This finding shows how this campaign model (targeting the urban-middle class citizen with subtle approach), should be pushed forward in line with the annual long march act, to gain more pressure for the advocacy through the new media and to obtain more solidarity from groups beyond the peasants themselves.