Half of Indonesia’s massive population still lives on farms, and for these tens of millions of people the revolutionary promise of land reform remains largely unfulfilled. The Basic Agrarian Law, enacted in the wake of the Indonesian revolution, was supposed to provide access to land and equitable returns for peasant farmers. But fifty years later, the law’s objectives of social justice have not been achieved.
Islands of intensive agriculture are areas of local cultivation surrounded by low-density livestock herders or extensive cultivators. Along the line of the East Africa Rift Valley, and in the highlands on either side, communities of considerable historical depth have developed highly specialized agricultural regimes, employing such labor-intensive devices as furrow irrigation, hillside terracing, and stall-feeding of cattle.