Biosecurity governance: negotiating citrus biosecurity with local governments and communitites in West Timor, Indonesia

I. Wayan Mudita

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


    Citrus was once a widely cultivated crop in West Timor, Indonesia, but has been severely declining during the last decade. Despite growing evidence that huanglongbing (HLB), previously known as citrus greening, is the primary cause of the decline, local governments remain afraid that officially acknowledging the disease will harm all efforts that have been made to promote the local mandarin cultivar. On the other hand, because of the lack of access to information sources beyond their village boundaries, the majority of community members have not heard about the disease.

    This paper describes the outcomes of mixed qualitative and quantitative research methods to negotiate official acknowledgment of HLB existence by local governments in order to promote public communication about the disease with local communities. For the purpose of providing a sound basis for negotiation, interviews were carried out with community members and government officials to understand how members of local communities interact between themselves and with local governments. To provide rigorous evidence that HLB is the primary cause of citrus decline, citrus specimens were sent to a highly reputable university for PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) tests, and collaboration was sought with the local office of the national quarantine agency for the necessary institutional and legal supports. Results suggest that, while local communities consider citrus cultivation as a mean of strengthening ties with their relatives and fellow villagers, local governments view it as an opportunity for implementing an intensification programme by replacing the means of citrus propagation from previously using seeds into using grafted seedlings without properly communicating the risk of disseminating graft-transmissible diseases. The negotiation that was carried out to explain the possibility of this risk by presenting evidence from the PCR tests has received mixed responses. The provincial and the TTU (Timor Tengah Utara or North Central Timor) district governments did not oppose the moves, but the TTS (Timor Tengah Selatan or South Central Timor) government refused all evidence of the disease unless the evidence is provided by an institution under its official authorization. Regardless of these mixed responses, however, the publication of this negotiation process by local newspapers has raised awareness among growers that to better manage biosecurity risk requires not only measures that could effectively control the disease but also policy that seeks better cooperation among all concerned stakeholders. This raised awareness has helped citrus growers to be more active in seeking information regarding the disease and its management beyond their village boundaries, thereby improving bridging ties with fellow growers from outside their villages and linking ties with universities and other research institutions. It is these ties, and the reciprocity bound up with them, that are expected to put more pressure on local governments to engage in better biosecurity governance in assessing, managing, and communicating risks posed by HLB to the citrus industry in the region and beyond.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages1
    Publication statusPublished - 2011
    EventScience Exchange 2011 - Barossa Valley, South Australia, Australia
    Duration: 9 Feb 201111 Feb 2011


    ConferenceScience Exchange 2011


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