The Jajar Legowo Rice Planting Festival was held on 22 October in Ngrapah Village, Semarang, Central Java. The participants included over 300 female farmers and labourers from 44 women’s groups that provide planting services in 15 districts in Central Java. In the festival’s competition, the women competed from sunrise to midday to plant rice over a total of 10 hectares. This festival is part of the High Premium Rice project, a Public-Private Partnership funded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Alongside the female farmers, the event was attended by the Governor of Central Java, Mr. Ganjar Pranowo, the Deputy Head of Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Mr. Ferdinand Lahnstein, the Senior Advisor at the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO), Mr. Jan Paul van Aken, as well as representatives from the local government and the project consortium.
As the premium rice project encourages the adoption of the Jajar Legowo (Jarwo) rice planting system, this festival aimed to increase the awareness of various stakeholders, in particular farmers and female labourers, on the benefits of the Jarwo system. This system is beneficial as it allows more space in between rice plants, which enables more even exposure to sunlight and eases the work of fertilizing, weeding, and spraying (for pest and disease control) done by farmers. This cropping pattern not only increases the plant population but also increases productivity by 10 – 15%.
Since 2015, the premium rice project has worked to increase the capacity of 58 farmers’ associations (Gapoktan) in 15 districts through a series of trainings and activities related to rice cultivation, post-harvest processing and connecting the Gapoktan business units directly to the market. The Gapoktan are also encouraged to engage in entrepreneurship by developing various services, including harvesting services, post-harvest processing and marketing, that will improve their income. This project also gives special focus to female farmers and laborers, and over the last 2.5 years it has provided support services to the women farmer’s planting services (PJT).
Female farmers and laborers play a very important role in rice farming. “Currently, approximately 90% of planting activities are still carried out manually by female labourers, yet the income they receive is incomparable to the hard labor they perform. The women’s groups also have limited access to support and receive little to no capacity building from the local government,” says Mr. Kees de Ruiter, Regional Manager of ICCO Cooperation in Southeast Asia. ICCO is the lead of the premium rice project consortium.
Furthermore, although machines have been introduced in several Gapoktan over the last five years, they have not been made to suit women. As it is female farmers/laborers who do the majority of the rice planting, this event also introduced the use of planting machines that would be suitable for female farmers in terms of size and weight. These machines have the potential to increase the productivity of female farmers and ease the amount of hard labor they have to do.
Mr. Ferdinand Lahnstein mentioned that while women have a largely unpaid but heavy hand-labour role in rice production, their contribution is essential to this program. “…women empowerment, including women entrepreneurship, is another key element in this project next to inclusive business with impact on small farmers, employees and entrepreneurs in general.”
Following the morning’s rice planting activities, the festival’s participants gathered to listen to the Governor of Central Java as he appreciated their hard work on the field and encouraged the youth in attendance to get involved in farming. He also urged the female farmers/laborers to embrace the use of machinery to help them improve their productivity and to ease the amount of hard labor they have to perform.
In the coming year, it is expected that the shared knowledge on Good Agricultural Practices and entrepreneurship, together with the new technology provided through this project, will help tackle the issues farmers face and increase the family income. Moreover, by developing the capacity of the Gapoktan and women’s groups to develop sound business plans to encourage future investments from private sector players, the operational sustainability once the project ends can be ensured.
About the Production and Marketing of High Premium Rice Project
The Production and Marketing of High Premium Rice project is a 4.5-year project that takes place in Central Java, Indonesia. The project aims to train, coach and motivate 10,000 farmers to improve their production and marketing of premium rice using certified seeds, and organic fertilizers and pesticides. This project is a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) and involves seven organizations (ICCO Cooperation, Rikolto, PT. SMB, PT. UNS, the Central Java Regional Development Bank, the Central Java Provincial Government and Bank Jateng Berdikari Foundation) and is supported by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency and the Indonesian Ministry of Home Affairs.
About the Facility for Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Food Security (FDOV) and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO)
The Facility for Sustainable Entrepreneurship and Food Security (FDOV) encourages public-private partnerships in the field of food security and private sector development in developing countries. The overall objective is to improve the food security situation and to strengthen the private sector in developing countries, in the best interests of the overall population. Netherlands Enterprise Agency administers FDOV at the request of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands.