INITIATIVES TO SUPPORT FARMERS AND PEASANTS IN DEALING WITH THE IMPACT OF COVID-19 IN INDONESIA

In this blog, Dr Siti Amanah discusses some of the initiatives taken up by the Government and the Universities to support farmers and peasants reeling under the impact of Covid-19 in Indonesia

CONTEXT

COVID-19 has become a major challenge in Southeast Asian countries. The crisis has affected the way people work, study, and interact with each other. Indonesia is the largest country in Southeast Asia and the fourth most populated country in the world (273 million). It is nearly three months since the first positive COVID-19 reported in the country in early March. Since the middle of March 2020, all schools, campuses and offices have been closed. Modes of learning and teaching have changed from face-to-face to distance learning. All officers and employees are working from home, except those working in hospitals, security, logistics, banks etc.

IMPACT ON AGRICULTURE

COVID-19 has also changed the way people interact with each other and affected so many sectors including agriculture. Paddy, soybean and corn are the most important crops in Indonesia. Small farmers (having less than 1 ha land) and peasants (landless working on rented farms or sharing resources with landowners) are the main producers of these crops and the average land managed is below one hectare.

Due to government’s policy to restrict movement, the transportation of agricultural products from fields to markets has been restricted. Prices have dropped at the farm level and consumers are paying higher prices as the supply of food products is limited in the markets. Farmers also face the problem of limited access to farm inputs including fertilizers, pesticides and seeds.

INTERVENTIONS FROM IPB UNIVERSITY TO SUPPORT FARMERS

Discussed below are some of the interventions to support farmers in tiding over the crisis.

Rumah sayur or Vegetable House: Buy vegetables and fruit from home

Rumah sayur or Vegetable House aims to assist small farmers and peasants to sell their produce directly to consumers through e-commerce. The initiative is part of a program from the Directorate of Students and Carrier Development of IPB University called One Village One Chief Executive Officer (OVOC).  The Vegetable House is an online shop, merchant-managed by the IPB Students who are “Young Entrepreneurs” or CEOs of the shops.

IPB University has collaborated with Tokopedia, an Indonesian technology company with a mission to democratize commerce through technology (Fig 1), and recently with Lazada, Southeast Asia’s leading e-commerce platform, to open rooms for the farmer’s fresh produce entering the marketplace which is e-commerce platform. This is intended to enable the products to reach customers faster and reduce marketing chains while preventing produce from wastage on the field.  The shop collects the produce from farmers.

IPB University manages two shops – Rumah Sayur Cisarua and Rumah Sayur Bogors – which are located outside the university campus. The vegetable or fruit will be stored in these shops. The customers buy products through Tokopedia and Lazada apps. Shops and the customers communicate through an online system.  The products will be delivered directly to the address provided by purchasers. The customer and the seller (online shops) can track the transaction process. The application tracks delivery of the product from farmers, to shops and to the buyer, thus facilitating monitoring at all stages.

Fig. 1. Rumah Sayur Bogor (Vegetable House), cooperation between smallfarmers, IPB Unviersity and Tokopedia (from tokopedia website, 2020)

IPB University has an Agribusiness and Technology Park (ATP) which was established in 2006. IPB University educates farmers to better understand and apply principles of agribusiness. The products of ATP have been marketed in supermarkets in Bogor, Jakarta, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi. ATP also cooperates with Rumah Sayur, Bogor, to supply vegetable and fruits to consumers.

The program has not only assisted farmers but also the consumers. The farmers’ products can reach markets and they get fair price; and the consumers can buy fresh food as needed while at home.

Buy one, give one (Tani  (agri) Center of IPB University and Citizen Coalition for Food Security)

Farmers in rural areas are finding it difficult to sell their rice produce in the market. Brokers who buy rice from the farmers have postponed transactions. The farmers lost revenue that they receive in this time.  Without support from government, private sector, civil society organizations and from the university, farmers will not be able to continue farming.

In this case, the Tani Center of IPB University collaborated with a civil society organization -Citizen Coalition for Food Security – to initiate a program called “Buy one, Give one”. The program, launched in April 2020, focuses on assisting paddy farmers to get the rice produce find markets and at the same time also help the poor to get rice and other staple food freely. In this case, the customers can buy the rice for themselves or for donation. The rice that is donated by customers will be distributed to the poor. The targeted people of this program are 500 poor households (around 2500 to 3000 people). Tani Center has distributed rice to the poor in Cakung Area – North Jakarta and in Bogor City. The beneficiaries of the rice donation from Tani Center will do social-environmental activities including river care and waste management.

GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES

The Central Government has many programs to assist farmers and Small and Medium Enterprises running agricultural related business. The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) implement a stimulus program for small farmers impacted by the pandemic. The stimulus program is in the form of cash and agricultural inputs for 2.4 million small farmers and peasants affected by the crisis. The amount of the stimulus in IDR is 600,000 per small-farmer.

The support delivered by the Ministry of Agriculture is in the form of free distribution of paddy and maize seeds, subsidized fertilizers and also continue the support to farmers through agricultural education and empowerment (in collaboration with extension services) and ensuring water for irrigating paddy fields.

Ecovillage Program (West Java Provincial Agency for Environment)

With a commitment to care for the environment of Citarum River Basin in West Java as well as managing community initiatives in managing land, water, forest and waste, the West Java Provincial Agency for Environment (WJPAE) started Ecovillage Program in 2014. The West Java Provincial Agency for Environment invites rural and urban community living in the area of Citarum river basins to work together in restoring or caring for the environment through: water resource preservation, waste management, planting yards in homes with crops or herbs for household needs and strengthening partnership with private and other organizations. The principle of “we care for nature and nature will save us” is internalized in community groups to strengthen the spirit for a better rural-urban ecosystem as well as social economics of the community.

The program started from zero-20 kilometer of Citarum River Basin (CRB) in 2014, located in upstream area of CRB. The government of West Java invited the community group that has a mandate for caring for the environment to register to the WJPAE to be supported under the Ecovillage Program. To strengthen capacity of the ecovillage based on community initiative, the WJPAE assigned an ecovillage facilitator for the community, with a community leader from the village. The facilitator should have prior experience as a community development worker and the WJPAE trains the facilitator before working with the community under ecovillage program.

Each community group receives IDR 8 million from WJPAE to finance meetings, workshops and field activities that were held by the ecovillage group. The facilitator assists the community using Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) approach to identify potential of the physical environment, social and economics of the area, to analyze the issues, to plan program, to link or to bridge the community with local government and private sectors and also to bring innovative ecovillage programs relevant to the community for a sustainable livelihood. An ecovillage facilitator is recruited by WJPAE after passing the selection process.

Having implemented the program for five years, Ecovillage Program has been widely adopted by communities living outside CRB. In this regard, a community group consists of village cadres, supported by community leader and head of the village, developed a community action group called “Ecovillage Baraya” in 2017.  The location of “Ecovillage Baraya” is in Bendungan Village, Ciawi Subdistrict, Bogor District. This ecovillage has successfully managed the program for not only preserving water resources, managing reuse, reduce, recycle (3R), but they also creatively used the water canal as a fishpond (Fig 2 show this Ecovillage). During the coronavirus pandemic, members of Baraya Ecovillage group enjoyed the harvest in the form of vegetable, fish, as well as social-bonding among the community that was also strengthened (https://www.instagram.com/p/CAqoEe-ptZx/). This can be seen as an intangible output from the ecovillage.

Fig 2. Baraya Ecovillage in Bogor – West Java

CONCLUSIONS

There are many programs and actions initiated and implemented to ease the impact of COVID-19 by various organizations in Indonesia.  We do hope that the Extension and Advisory services (EAS) could do their best to support small farmers and peasants in the frontline of efforts for food security by organizing collaborations among the government, private sector, community leaders, civil society organization and universities. COVID-19 at the same time is also urging us to make a small retreat and to allow nature rest for a while to reach a new equilibrium.

 

sumber : apiras.net

-Mebumi dan Mendunia-

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