Indonesia is known as an agricultural country, where agriculture is a major contributor to the economy. Sadly, the nation is currently overshadowed by the crisis of farmer regeneration. This is because the number of workers in this sector, especially young people, continues to decline every now and then.
Agriculture becomes a sector that is less attractive to millennials due some assumptions of low income. Based on Statistics Indonesia (BPS) data as of August 2020, the average wage for workers in the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sector was only Rp1.92 million per month, the lowest of the 17 sectors.
In fact, agriculture can be a promising sector if it is managed seriously. Behind the story of the difficult life experienced by farmers, there are many who have successfully pursued this profession. Citing Kumparan.com, here are stories about three successful farmers who may inspire millennials to be farmers.
Aluysius Adiyo Agung
Aluysius Adiyo Agung has succeeded in breaking the assumption that rural farmers are living in poverty. The 44-year-old man has proven that he can be successful by being a farmer in Indonesia. He can even build enough savings for retirement.
Originally, he wasn’t born as a farmer. He had absolutely no agricultural background and started a career as an employee in a foreign company. His interest in farming emerged when he visited his village in the Delanggu area, Klaten Regency, Central Java. There he found out that most of the farmers were old people, not young people who were simply more physically fit.
After getting more knowledge about agriculture, he finally decided to have a career change to become a farmer. Once he failed, but he never gave up. He even made an innovation in the sale of crops, a direct selling without middlemen. That way, he could get a bigger profit.
Perseverance is the key to success. This was what Ulus Pirmawan held on to when he decided to be a farmer. With his perseverance and abundant experience, the Bandung born man is now a successful farmer and exporter of super green beans. He does have a farming background because his mother and father are also farmers.
His journey as a farmer began when he was still in elementary school. He often helped his parents with farming after school. When he finally decided not to continue his study, he focused on taking care of the paddy field that his parents had handed over. He utilized the 1,680 square meter land area the best he could. Growing up, he was entrusted to manage the field with the help of five farmworkers.
With a high level of experience, he managed to achieve good yields. However, there was one problem. The middlemen in his area were not transparent so that the income they received was relatively small. Following this condition, he ventured to send green beans to Jakarta. In 1995, he even started to send his crops to Singapore.
If Ulus is successful in farming beans, Abdul Qohar has made a success by becoming a papaya farmer. The Calina papaya produced by Qohar can generate profits of up to Rp18 million per month, despite the risk of crop failure.
If the risk can be reduced, he can even make a profit of up to Rp20 million per month. The number is quite fantastic considering the land he owns in Candisari Village, Sambeng District, Lamongan Regency, East Java is classified as arid and dry because it is near the coastal area. His choice to grow papaya is also considered not common because many local people prefer to grow corn or tobacco.
Good thing is he ignored it and has been consistent with his choice. Now, he owns 15 hectares of land full of Calina papaya plants. His success was then followed by the surrounding community. Qohar finally decided to form the Godong Ijo Sejahtera Farmers Group which accommodates farmers in the Candisari Village area.
Government Targets to Produce 2.5 Million Millennial Farmers
The government has made various efforts so that the regeneration of farmers does not become a threat to the decline of the agricultural sector in Indonesia. For this reason, the Ministry of Agriculture is targeting to produce 2.5 million millennial farmers within five years.
Minister of Agriculture Syahrul Yasin Limpo (SYL) said that the regeneration was needed for agricultural continuity in Indonesia, because 70% of the farmers were old people.
“Therefore, it is necessary to regenerate, including through the millennial farmers program. We are targeting to produce 2.5 million millennial farmers in five years,” said the Minister as reported by Media Indonesia, Thursday, September 9, 2021.
According to him, although the agricultural sector has now become a promising sector, it is not easy to accelerate persuading the millennial generation for farming.
“It takes the cooperation of all parties, starting from local, provincial up to central governments,” said SYL.
However, he added, the government will continue the efforts to recruit young people to become millennial farmers, among them by facilitating capital, seeding, fertilization, and training.
Separately, the Head of Public Relations and Information Bureau, Kuntoro Boga Andri, assessed that the farmer regeneration problem is not only experienced by Indonesia because almost all countries in the world experience the same thing.
“What makes the younger generations are still reluctant to enter the agricultural sector because there are psychological and economic factors, the stereotypes that farmers are still considered lower-class jobs and that agricultural sector makes lower income when compared to non-agriculture,” said Kuntoro as reported by Republika, Friday, 24 September 2021
However, along with the development of technology and information, millennials are more keen to enter the agricultural sector because they can see that despite the challenges they will face, the income in the agricultural sector is very promising.
“The characteristics of millennial farmers are innovative and adaptive to technological developments. They have successfully applied many new things, breaking the deadlock in farming development and most importantly creating potential new markets,” said Kuntoro.
Further he explained that there are at least 2.7 million farmers classified as millennial farmers out of a total of 33 million farmers in Indonesia. Apart from being relatively young, under 39 years old, those millennial farmers have completed at least high school. They are also adaptive and innovative, especially in optimizing ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) as well as being creative in utilizing agricultural tools and machines.
In fact, said Kuntoro, various creativity of millennial farmers sprung up during the pandemic. Take Garut lemon for example. It is produced by Kelompok Wanita Tani (KWT) Putri Sawargi in cooperation with an agricultural company Eptilu (Fresh From Farm) which supplies vitamin C for medical practitioners in all hospitals in Garut.
“That’s cool. How to empower local potential and at the same time support and assist the government in overcoming the Covid-19 pandemic by supporting the fitness and endurance of medical practitioners while dealing with Covid-19,” he said.
Another story of successful people in agriculture is Dede Koswara (31 years old) from Bandung. He is the Head of farmers group Gapoktan Regge which grows pumpkins and has sold 20 to 40 tons of the fruit to various regions per day with a turnover of around Rp50-100 million.
“Those were some great stories about our millennial farmers. So, farming is a great thing to do, being a farmer is awesome,” said Kuntoro.
Written by: Renat