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Bridging Knowledge Across Borders: Empowering Youth Farmers in Indonesia

Posted On: June 28, 2024

Published in collaboration with Yayasan Bina Tani Sejahtera.

Visitors from EWS-KT examine Let’s Grow! project materials with YBTS staff.

The Let’s Grow! project, supported by the Ganesha Foundation and led by Yayasan Bina Tani Sejahtera (YBTS), is transforming the lives of young farmers in East Nusa Tenggara Province, Indonesia, through a powerful combination of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and life skills training.

Recently, the project welcomed a visit from the East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer Foundation (EWS-KT) team, which provided an opportunity to showcase the project’s successes and exchange valuable insights. EWS-KT works closely with YBTS, particularly on extension materials, extension methodologies, and data management.

The visit commenced with presentations and discussions, where EWS-KT representatives Sylvie Desilles (Sustainable Growth and Development Manager), Girlie Frando (Farmer Extension Manager), Atikur Rahman (Knowledge Transfer Manager, Bangladesh), Nonin Chho (Knowledge Transfer Manager, Cambodia), Mar Lar Soe (Knowledge Transfer Manager, Myanmar), and Lysette Lacambra (Technical Support Hub Manager) provided insights into the challenges and opportunities faced by young farmers. The Let’s Grow! team highlighted specific challenges in East Nusa Tenggara, such as limited land access, low youth commitment to farming, and weather impact on crops. This knowledge exchange set the stage for the practical sessions that followed.

Hands-On Learning and Financial Management

A key highlight of the visit was a refresher training for Let’s Grow! youth participants in Ponain village, led by Andhika Subnafeu, the Life Skill and Inclusion Officer, and Febrianus Mado, the Senior Technical Field Officer (TFO). This session focused on financial management and GAP techniques. The young farmers explained how they learned about the importance of saving, reinvesting, and prioritizing expenses through the project. They were encouraged to consider long-term financial planning, including investments like purchasing cows or jewelry, for potential future income. The cash flow discussion under the project also led youth to consider risk management and resilience.

The training session also featured a Q&A period with EWS-KT colleagues, who asked about the youth participants’ interest in life skills, their savings strategies, and their aspirations. The youth expressed enthusiasm for money management, viewing improved income as a motivator to save and invest in their future. Additionally, they emphasized the importance of maintaining a logbook of their vegetable production, ensuring that their agricultural activities are well documented and allowing them to make continuous improvements.

Cultivating Skills and Future Plans

The next stop was Tesbatan village, for a refresher training focused on GAP. The young farmers at the training also shared their experiences and answered questions about their understanding of GAP, their interest in the program, and future goals. They emphasized the sense of community and support among program participants, which motivated their continued involvement in the program. The visit included sharing sessions with Adyanto Banamtuan, the Market Access and Connectivity Officer, and Tio Ruth Octania, a TFO, followed by a delightful local meal together.

In Soe, the visit began with engaging discussions involving young farmers, traditional elders, and other community members, focusing on agricultural challenges such as land access, soil quality, crop rotation, pest control, and market access. In regard to market access, the Market Access and Connectivity Officers in Soe and Kupang Regency (which includes the villages of Ponain and Tesbatan) were instrumental in enhancing market competition by providing updates on weekly prices and information on local traders. During the discussions, the youth openly shared their aspirations in farming, including establishing agricultural businesses, saving for marriage, and building their homes.

The visit also included a tour of six demonstration plots, each showcasing different crops and agricultural practices. This tour offered a firsthand look at the challenges faced by farmers and highlighted innovative solutions like the “buddy system.” This system, where farmers manage adjacent plots collaboratively, not only fosters mutual support but also promotes knowledge exchange. Practical demonstrations by EWS-KT colleagues on disease detection and soil moisture management at the demonstration plots further enriched the farmers’ knowledge.

The Impact of GAP and Life Skills Training

The visit concluded with brainstorming sessions and action planning, emphasizing the need to translate the Let’s Grow! youth onboarding module into English for broader adoption. Key focus areas included life skills training, social media and digitalization, the buddy system, and government support.

The EWS-KT team’s visit to the Let’s Grow! project in East Nusa Tenggara highlighted the transformative impact of integrating GAP and life skills training. Through continuous learning, community engagement, and a supportive framework, the project is empowering young farmers to achieve remarkable success and laying the groundwork for sustainable agricultural development in the region. This visit also inspired the young farmers and motivated them to increase their productivity.