Encouraging the Emergence of Young Farmers

When people hear of “Indonesian farmers”, they tend to think of someone poor, old and far from cool. Hence, the younger generation rarely wants to become farmers. Adhitya Herwin Dwiputra (27) tries to get young people to change that image by becoming a farmer.

Adhit started a campaign in the agricultural sector in 2016 through social media. He shared the problems faced by farmers and potential food needs in the future. For example, he gave an illustration that in 2035-2045, food demand will increase along with population growth.

The need for rice alone is estimated to increase by 100 million tons. The question is, who will provide the food needs if there is no regeneration of farmers.

The regeneration of farmers is a big task for Indonesia. The 2018 Inter-Census Agricultural Survey (SUTAS) by Statistics Indonesia (BPS) shows, from around 27 million households working in the agricultural sector, the head of farmer households in Indonesia is dominated by people aged 45 years and over. The head of farmer households aged 25-44 years is only 9.2 million and under the age of 25 is only 191,000.

“We want young people, whatever their educational background, to think about this problem and find solutions together,” said the alumnus of the School of Agriculture, Gadjah Mada University (UGM), who was contacted on several occasions in 2020.

Also read: The Winding Path of a Young Entrepreneur

This initiative has received support from many parties, including his seniors and lecturers at UGM. Adhit took a step further. Together with his colleague, Iftikar, he formed the I Am an Indonesian Farmer movement. Through this movement, they designed a systematic campaign to encourage young people to enter the agricultural sector.

n 2018, this movement visited campuses in Aceh, Medan, Palembang, Banten, Bogor, Central Java and East Java for agricultural campaigns. One of the programs is creating agricultural innovation competitions for high school students and university students. The winners are given a capital of Rp 3 million (US$212) to implement their innovation. He also invited young people to go down to the farm or rice fields, then become agricultural entrepreneurs, and run cooperatives. He believes that all of this can revive agriculture and the people\’s economy. “We encourage collaboration, inviting young people to understand agricultural problems and take part in [solving] them.”

Young people who are not involved in agriculture can also participate in brainstorming. Law faculty students, for example, can study the Agrarian Law so that opportunities for conversion of agricultural land can be reduced. International relations students can contribute thoughts on diplomacy and negotiations for the export of agricultural products.

Also read: The Winding Path of a Young Entrepreneur

So far, continued Adhit, the I Am an Indonesian Farmer movement has touched around 25,000 young people on various occasions. He is happy that the farmer regeneration campaigns among young people, including his, are starting to show results.

The list of millennial farmers who come from his network is getting longer. He also saw that the BPS survey data shows that the number of millennial farmers has increased even though the number was not significant. “It was difficult to find young farmers in the past. Now we have more than 50 expert young farmers,” he said.

Also read: Becoming a Farmer: Who’s Afraid?

Adhit also found that the conversation among agriculture students is currently starting to shift. During his college days, agriculture students talked about how to work as a civil servant in the Agriculture Ministry or an oil palm plantation company. “Now agriculture students are enthusiastic about discussing agricultural entrepreneurship, agricultural start-ups, agricultural applications, developing hydroponics, and urban farming,” he said.

Always agriculture

Adhit comes from a family who works in agriculture in Pagar Alam, South Sumatra. This made him interested in agriculture. When he graduated from high school, he decided to study agriculture at UGM. During college, he created the Gamaku Kebunku (My Gadjah Mada, my garden) movement to campaign the importance of planting at least one tree in boarding houses or student residences.

Graduated from UGM, he returned to his village to take care of his parents\’ coffee farm. There he found that farmers\’ problems from the past until now have not changed, namely low yields and low prices for agricultural products. As a result, farmers suffered and can stay poor forever.

This experience has prompted Adhit to create a social movement in agriculture called I Am an Indonesian Farmer to encourage young people to enter the agricultural sector. Initially, he financed the movement\’s campaign with personal money set aside from his salary as an employee of a large company. Now, he and his team are seeking campaign funds through selling souvenir shirts, cooperating with other parties, and consulting services.

Adhit himself has created a pilot project for company-scale porang (Amorphophallus muelleri) plants cultivation in Madiun, East Java. Currently, the price of porang tubers is good in the world market. “The government can no longer order farmers to plant rice or crops whose price is not certain. Farmers must be prosperous. So, we invite them to plant prospective crops and fight for price certainty,” he said.

If farmers can be prosperous, continued Adhit, even without being asked, young people will take another look at the agricultural sector. Then, farmer regeneration will take place.

Adhitya Herwin Dwiputra

Place, DOB: Bandar Lampung, May 18, 1993

Education: Bachelor’s degree from School of Agriculture, Gadjah Mada University (2020-2015)

This article is translated by Stella Kusumawardhani. Writer : Ester Lince Napitupulu (source : Koran Kompas)

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