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Seeds to Success: YBTS and Papuan Youth in Sustainable Agriculture

Posted On: May 1, 2024

Established in 2009 by East West Seed Indonesia, Yayasan Bina Tani Sejahtera (YBTS) supports farmers in adopting and implementing improved vegetable farming practices in Indonesia. East-West Seed Knowledge Transfer Foundation and YBTS collaborate on training protocols, educational materials, and more.

Marthen Luther and other members of young farmers group Pelita Jaya Makmur prepare a vegetable bed.
Members of the Pelita Jaya Makmur young farmers group, with leader Marthen Luther on the right.

PAPUA PROVINCE, INDONESIA – Yayasan Bina Tani Sejahtera has been providing guidance on sustainable Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) in vegetable cultivation in Papua Province since 2016. Papua is characterized by rich natural resources and fertile land, offering great potential for farming. However, Papuan farmers have limited access to markets and farming inputs, and the region faces deforestation and land degradation issues. These challenges especially impact Papuan youth, who have high unemployment rates and limited access to education and skills training.

Building Papua Through Youth Empowerment

In September 2023, under a partnership with Kopernik Foundation, YBTS extended its reach within Papua to Jayapura Regency, where youth (ages 18 to 35) constitute 26% of the population (BPS – Statistics Indonesia, 2021). This project, called Empowering Youth, Building Papua, encourages active participation in the development of Papua through productive and sustainable horticulture.

The first stage of the project (January 2022 to September 2022) reached 100 youth in Biak Numfor Regency through training sessions held at 9 young key farmers’ model fields. Building on this success, the current stage of the project (September 2023 to June 2024) aims to empower 50 young key farmers in Jayapura Regency, reaching an additional 300 youth with training in GAP. A local partner, Papua Muda Inspiratif (Inspirative Youth Papua), provides participants with microbusiness development training and support, digital platforms for networking and market information, and skills and leadership programs.

YBTS’s activities under the project include establishing model vegetable production fields, providing individualized farming assistance, conducting horticultural training sessions, and sharing success stories to inspire other young individuals. A learning farm established in September 2023 by YBTS in Waibron Indigenous Village, West Sentani District, Jayapura Regency, serves as a hub for farmers to learn and implement Good Agricultural Practices.

Indigenous Youth—Drivers of Change

YBTS Extension Manager Edwin Saragih and farmer Marthen Luther stand in a filed while holding melons.
YBTS Extension Manager Edwin Saragih (left) and farmer Marthen Luther (right).

A pivotal moment in this journey of success unfolded when Marthen Luther, an impassioned Indigenous youth from Papua, posted to the YBTS Facebook page. Marthen, who leads a young farmers group called Pelita Jaya Makmur, was seeking guidance on implementing GAP in West Sentani District.  

“I was in search of a new path to bring about change in Papua. I contacted YBTS through Facebook, and it turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made,” he said. “The assistance I received not only aided in farming but also opened up new opportunities. Together, we are creating meaningful change.”

With assistance from the field staff, and with Marthen’s strong commitment to acquiring knowledge, the Pelita Jaya Makmur farmers achieved a successful harvest of shallots, purple glutinous corn, and yellow watermelons. The shallot yield, which totaled 100 kilograms and sold at 50,000 Indonesian rupiahs per kilogram, marked the first successful attempt by Indigenous Papuan farmers to grow shallots from seeds in Jayapura Regency. These new crops bring a fresh perspective to local agriculture, moving beyond the traditional focus on leafy vegetables, and offer additional income opportunities for Indigenous farmers.

“I firmly believe that with guidance and shared enthusiasm, Papuan youth can become a dominant force. We are not just cultivating vegetables but also sowing the seeds of hope and a future for the next generation,” added Marthen. The success achieved goes beyond abundant harvests. The project is also empowering Papuan youth to be resilient agents of change.

Together, YBTS and Kopernik Foundation are witnessing the land of Papua grow and thrive through the dedicated hands of youth, who represent the future of sustainable agriculture.