No Longer for Peasant Welfare: The Impact of Political Reform and Market on the Village Land Distribution

Bambang Hudayana (Universitas Gadjah Mada)


This paper describes on the decline in control among peasants over the village land (tanah kas desa), although the reform has been running for 17 years that created village democratization. Village land is the land as the wealth and source of income for the village to finance the development activities. Now, village government liked to rent some village land to investor or non farmer because of looking for big revenue rather than for the peasant welfare.

This study conducted in Wukirsari village, Yogyakarta Special Region, and finds out that the reform has strengthened the position of citizens in village. Meanwhile, market economy has growing up and give a positive impact on welfare. However, the reform and commercialization have changed the function of village land as for peasant welfare to be commodity. There are several reasons. First, commercialization increasingly penetrated into rural economy causing actors competing each other strictly for local resources. As a result, peasants then lose access to hire village land at cheap price. Second, village government
also increasingly commercialize in utilizing the village treasury. They do not pick village land again as funds of social security, but as a production factor needed to raise village incomes. Third, the village head was able to overcome pressure from villagers when he made a decision for changing the land function for nonfarm sector. He can manipulate good governance concept to make his decision to be accountable, transparent, and participatory. Fourthly, some elites were able to reproduce cultural strategy such as harmony for controlling and making village land as commodity.

Keywords: farmer, welfare, decentralization, village land.