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Reigniting community interest in farming

Posted: Jun 25, 2019 3 minute read Beni Wijaya 0 Likes

We live in a digital era – where computers and gadgets are a big part of our daily lives. Children are exposed to technology from a young age, and that shapes their perception of the world differently compared to older generations. Impacting how they plan for their future, including their careers.

Young people in Indonesia, and around the world, are becoming less inclined to work in agriculture. Even though agronomy remains a key contributor to the nation’s economy, jobs in the industry are now being swapped for work in the cities or urban areas because of the impression that being a farmer is not prestigious.

Wiwi Cusmiarti
The Headmaster of SMP 10 Nanga Tayap and Wiwi Cusmiarti at the GAR PET programme.

Wiwi Cusmiarti and Masfufah are teachers at SMP 10 Satu Atap Nanga Tayap and SDN 25 Nanga Tayap, from the Ketapang regency in West Kalimantan. They are trying make farming popular again among the youth in their communities and re-instil the values that are cultivated through farming.

Introducing ecological farming

Based on their own experience with GAR’s Integrated Ecological Farming (PET) initiative, these two teachers decided to use their learning to help their students’ see the positive possibilities in farming.

What is Integrated Ecological Farming (PET)?

The PET programme is part of GAR’s larger fire-free programme called Desa Makmur Peduli Api (DMPA), which aims to prevent fires in communities through providing tools and knowledge. PET helps communities achieve food self-sufficiency, earn extra income as well as raise awareness about alternative farming methods without the use of fire.

Wiwi and Masfufah took part in PET when it was launched at the Simpang Tiga Sembelangaan village, Nanga Tayap sub-district in 2018. There, they learnt technical skills from a farmer brought in by the company to guide them – making solid and liquid compost, seeding, nurturing, and pest controlling. They also gained new perspectives about agriculture, learning how the act of burning to open up new farmland does not actually bring farmers any economic, health, environment, or social advantages. The teachers used their new knowledge, and modified it into subjects to be taught to their students at school.

Masfufah in learning garden of GAR PET Programme.

“There has been a change in our students’ mindsets after we taught them the PET subjects. They are very enthusiastic each time we have this lesson, because other subjects are normally only about theory, but in PET they can practice directly at the learning farm. We also get assistance from a real farmer who is willing and ready to share his knowledge with these children. Now, quite a handful of students are interested in developing eco-friendly farming in their village,” explained Wiwi.

SMP 10 Satu Atap Nanga Tayap
Eco-friendly farming has become part of the fixed curriculum at SMP 10 Satu Atap Nanga Tayap.

Long-term benefits

Besides the tangible benefits, Wiwi believes it is also important to keep the farming culture alive within the community because of the values it brings, one of which is ‘gotong royong’, which means mutual cooperation. By working hand in hand during the planting and harvesting process of farming, the students are encouraged to be a productive group, and can actually see the rewards of their collective labour.

Students of SMP 10 Nanga Tayap
Students of SMP 10 Nanga Tayap having their ecological farming lesson together in the learning garden.

The teachers hope that in the future, children will love farming more, and embrace it as a part of their identity. Helping children value their roots in farming communities is important in keeping rural communities vibrant. They believe education to be one of the most effective ways to reignite this passion for farming within communities, and that support from the government and private sector – such as through the PET initiative – will be greatly needed.

Masfufah added, “What we are doing now is a first step, so that our children can grow not only as an intelligent generation, but also still have the character that comes from the noble values of the place they were born and raised, which is the farming community.”

Learn about how else our fire-free DMPA programme has benefitted communities here.

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