, VI Conference of BRICS Initiative of Critical Agrarian Studies

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The politics of salt self-sufficiency and agrarian dynamics in rural Kupang, Indonesia
Alfian Helmi

Last modified: 2018-12-14


Salt self-sufficiency has been a major policy concern in Indonesia in the past few years. Encouraged by this policy, Indonesia has attracted significant domestic and foreign direct investments to seize investment opportunities in the countryside to produce salt for salt production aiming to fulfill a country’s domestic salt demand. Consequently, many salt companies have opened up and receive a land concession. This study performed in the rural Kupang, Indonesia, tend to analyze how the discourse regarding salt self-sufficiency has been employed to release land from customary tenure to state coalition, corporate and local elites’ actors. Additionally, this paper highlights the interconnections between food politics, agrarian capitalism and shows how the concern for salt self-sufficiency in Indonesia has favored large agrarian capital. This study does not intend to criticize the goal of salt self-sufficiency but to reveal how it has been used to empower and enrich large agrarian capital instead of developing a sustainable livelihood for rural communities. Our analysis indicates that the agrarian politics remain as contested as the dynamic within the state-society-capital nexus. Further, the process of land transfer is not just the overt maneuvers of state and corporate entities but they also ‘emerge by stealth’ where differentiation, erosion of social relations among the peasantry communities, and the uneven distribution and differentiated access to land reinforce each other.


land grab; agrarian capital; landscape transformation; rural; salt producers; extensification

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