October 11, 2023
On September 24, Indonesia celebrates National Farmers’ Day. This day commemorates the struggle of farmers, who make up more than 29% of the country’s workforce, that provides food for the nation. It is also a remembrance for the rest of the country to pledge support to free farmers from suffering and ensure their prosperity.
At Jiva, we consider it an important day to celebrate, as it aligns with our mission to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers.
Globally, 60 percent of people suffering from hunger are smallholder farmers. It is ironic — considering they are growing 70 percent of the world’s food, but mostly living below the poverty line, earning less than 2 dollars a day.
The world also recently showed its eagerness to help smallholder farmers to prosper. Last month, world leaders and innovators convened in New York to discuss the ways we can accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations Headquarters.
Our CEO, Ram Mahadevan, attended this meeting, in which Jiva was chosen to represent a solution to help achieve one of the Goals, “Zero Hunger,” which we believe could be done by helping smallholder farmers get better livelihoods, so the future of their profession is sustainable, and the production of food is secure.
On the field, our team always finds young farmers who soldier on amidst the global food crises and their own hardships of making ends meet.
Who are the young farmers we had the honour of having in our network?
During some of the 150+ events we held to celebrate Farmers’ Day all over Indonesia, our team managed to speak with five young farmers. These are their stories.
Reza, 21, and Firman, 20, are young farmers from Jeneponto, South Sulawesi.
Our team met them at a Farmers Day celebration in their village in the district of Kelara, where they shared their nearly identical backstories.
Reza and Firman are both from generational farmers’ families. They both started joining their parents on the field and learning to cultivate crops when they were still in elementary school.
As soon as they finished high school, they decided that they wanted to become farmers full-time.
“I want to follow in my parent’s footsteps and become a successful farmer,” said Reza, to which Firman was nodding in agreement.
“And a rich one!” Firman added while laughing.
It was heartening to see young people like Reza and Firman who are not only determined to take on the roles that have been with their families for generations but also proud to do so, considering that farming has increasingly become an unpopular choice among people their age.
We met Saniyawati, 32, and Jumadil, 35, on different occasions as they participated in separate Farmers Day events that Jiva held in their respective villages in West Nusa Tenggara.
Like Reza and Firman, Saniyawati and Jumadil are generational farmers.
What made them decide to become farmers?
Saniyawati said it was almost the norm to become a farmer in the village where she was from. “The majority of people here make a living from farming,” she said. “That’s why I become one, too.”
For Jumadil, or Adel, as his fellow villagers called him, his limited formal education qualifications contributed to why he chose to become a farmer. “I didn’t finish school, so farming is the only thing I could learn to be good at to make a living,” Jumadil said. “Thankfully, with farming, I could learn it from my parents. It’s a skill passed on for generations in my family.”
A humble wish that both Saniyawati and Jumadil shared was that they hope to continue being able to cover their family’s needs from farming.
“I hope [farming] can make a sustainable living for me,” said Saniyawati. “And I hope the government can put more attention to ensuring farmers’ prosperity.”
For 33-year-old Zainal Abidin, born and raised in a village called Sidowaras in Jombang, East Java, becoming a farmer was a sensible thing to do.
“I live in a village. There are fertile lands everywhere to cultivate crops. So I chose to become a farmer. Besides, there is no need to move away or commute, so I can keep my earnings,” he said to our team.
Like all young farmers that we’ve met, Zainal learned to become a farmer from his parents, but he also mentioned that his fellow villagers were also major contributors to his current farming knowledge and skills.
“Everyone here is a farmer, so we share our knowledge with each other,” Zainal said. “I think this has helped everyone get a successful harvest and, at least, make ends meet for our families.”
At Jiva, we are determined to help make farming a more sustainable, profitable, and appealing profession in the long run — so the world does not run out of young people like Reza, Firman, Saniyawati, Jumadil, and Zainal who choose to, and are proud, to be farmers.
The world is on the brink of a food insecurity crisis; a great number of farmers are suffering from hunger. That is why Jiva wants to inspire the younger generation of farmers, helping improve the current farmers’ livelihoods by raising their incomes through digitally supported systems, so that farming can become a more promising occupation and the future food supply is secured because there is always sustainable regeneration of farmers.
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