The Role of Governments on Sustainable Agriculture

Partnerships that certify agricultural commodities should be taken seriously by governments because they represent legitimate expressions of societal perspectives. However, they also create dilemmas for them, as they need to find a new balance between public and private responsibilities. Current research shows a lot of uncertainty among governments on how to react. This is further complicated by the variety of certifying arrangements and the competition among them. Moreover, from various studies it has also become clear that the effectiveness of private certification strongly depends on governmental policies.

Many of these sustainability arrangements are initiated by Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and private companies from the Northern countries to address the production of agricultural commodities in the Southern countries. However, governments are hardly recognized their presence in the initiation of sustainability standards. Some of the standards involved the Northern governments in their initiation stage, however, less known that Southern governments as a producing country are involved.

The study assumes that the roles and strategies in Southern countries (Indonesia) and Northern countries will be different though related. The study covers both the effects of governmental participation in the development of private certification schemes, and their reaction as a non-participant. Governments in Southern countries need to determine their position in the discourse of sustainability standards on agriculture commodities. Governments, no doubt, have an influence in the implementation of sustainability standards on the ground level through their authority and policies. Governments cannot avoid their selves from the global discussion on sustainability standard.