The Serikat Petani Indonesia (SPI), or Indonesian Peasant Union, was founded in North Sumatra in 1997 as a response to the long struggle experienced by Indonesian peasants to gain the freedom to speak, assemble, and be organized. The Jakarta-based organization has twelve unions across the country. SPI is part of the international peasants movement called La Via Campesina, which unites millions of peasants, small and medium-sized farmers, women farmers, indigenous people, migrant and agricultural workers, and landless people from around the world. The grassroots organization seeks to protect food sovereignty, which is the people’s right to healthy, culturally appropriate, and sustainably produced food and right to define their food and agriculture systems.
The Indonesian Peasant Union aims to “strengthen the solidarity between farmers’ organizations and actors for the realization of genuine agrarian reform and food sovereignty with justice.” SPI helps to empower farmers through education and fights for laws to protect peasants’ rights and an equitable system of land ownership.
The key issues addressed by the organization include agrarian reform, food sovereignty, sustainable agriculture, and peasants’ rights. These issues are critically important in Indonesia, a country in which 34 percent of the population is employed in the agricultural sector, according to the World Bank. SPI plays an active role in supporting Indonesia’s agricultural workers in many arenas, including struggles over land distribution, the production and distribution planning of agricultural products, and encouraging self-reliance.