Indonesian farmers criticise Bank project

15 June 1999

The Yayasan Duta Awam Foundation (YDA) has conducted a 15 month grassroots investigation of the Bank-financed “Integrated Swamps Development Project.” It concludes that World Bank-funded agricultural projects in Indonesia must be more closely monitored to ensure adherence to basic principles of environmentally sound and socially just development.

YDA trained and assisted local farmers in participatory monitoring of the project’s impacts on their health, agricultural systems and community well-being. The study was conducted by 37 farmer monitors, who interviewed 342 farmers from 15 villages in West Kalimantan and Riau provinces. Farmers presented their findings and recommendations to government and World Bank officials at two provincial seminars and one national seminar.

The survey uncovered widespread problems including increased use of and dependence on toxic chemical pesticides, lack of transparency about terms and conditions of grants and loans given to farmers, minimal community consultation during project design and implementation, marginalization of women from project activities, and widespread corruption.

The Bank’s operational policy on pest management clearly states that projects must help reduce reliance on chemical pesticides. However, YDA‘s study indicates that farmers’ use of and dependence on chemical pesticides has increased significantly over the course of the project. Furthermore, the Bank policy stipulates that it will not finance pesticide formulations classified by the WHO as Class Ia (extremely hazardous), Ib (highly hazardous) or II (moderately hazardous). Yet 85% of the pesticides given to farmers in one province participating in the Swamp Development Project contained active ingredients in these three classes.

Local farmers and YDA are calling on the Indonesian government and World Bank to remove hazardous pesticides from the Swamp Development project’s agricultural input packages, provide training in ecologically-based Integrated Pest Management and health effects of pesticides, return monies improperly collected from farmers, provide full and transparent documentation of loan terms and conditions, and develop future project activities in consultation with farmers. They also want the Bank to release all financial and technical audits of the Swamps Development project and establish an independent body to whom Indonesian farmers can make complaints and report irregularities without fear of reprisal.

See The Jakarta Post, April 8 and April 20, 1999.

Contact: Pesticide Action Network, 49 Powell St., Suite 500, San Francisco, CA 94102 USA,,