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  • Women farmers in Penakalan Village, Sejangkung District, Sambas Regency, West Kalimantan, are actively cultivating their agricultural land to be planted with rice.
  • In Penakalan Village, women farmers grow up in a group called the Kamboja Women’s Group.
  • This group was already established since 2016, and consists of 24 women from various hamlets in Penakalan.
  • Penakalan Village has a population of 1,218 people with an area of 658 square km. Other than rice, other commodities becoming the village leading crops are rubber, pepper and orange.
Women Farmer

In Sambas Regency, a village is moving to manage land sustainably. Most of the farmers are women. They work hand in hand to build Penakalan Village, Sejangkung District, Sambas Regency, West Kalimantan.

In Indonesia, a patriarchal culture places women farmers in an ambiguous position. Very few of them have access to own assets in legal way. The dual role is burdensome. Very often they realize that the activities they are doing make them work as farmers.

In Penakalan village, women farmers grow in groups. Kamboja Women’s Group was formed so that they can learn together to increase the capacity of women farmers in order to help improve the family economy. Pariha was then appointed as the chairwoman.

This group was established since 2016, and consists of 24 women from various hamlets in Penakalan. Since it was initially formed, this group has regularly held meetings, at least once a month. “Besides planting ordinary rice, we also made demonstration plots [demplot] for black rice farming and demonstration plots for chili which are managed together,” said Pariha, at the end of September 2020.

She explained that the chili demonstration plots were supports from Department of Agriculture implemented in 2017, while the black rice demonstration plots were provided by Gemawan Institute to improve women’s economy. Kamboja Women’s Group is a member of the North Coast Women’s Union which was founded since 2009.

The agricultural demonstration plots are managed by the group members. The result is considerably enough, at least to meet the family’s food needs. Even, some of them are sold to the market. “But most of them are for daily needs,” he said.

Other activities conducted were technical and non-technical training, to improve the capacity of the members and group. For example, making organic fertilizers, training of organic pest-repellent, women’s leadership, gender equality, and paralegals. “In fact, there is a basic training of family budgeting,” explained Pariha.

Relying on the rain

Penakalan Village has a population of 1,218 people with an area of 658 square km. The community primary jobs are farmers whose areas are fields, swamps and rainfed rice fields.

“Rice irrigation still relies on rain and river tides as the sources of water,” explained Ridho Faizinda, from Gemawan Institute. Ridho is a manager at the institute which intensely do empowerment to village women based on local resources.

The cultivation of agricultural land in Penakalan Village is still mostly done conventionally, using simple equipment. Other than rice, the commodities becoming the village leading crops are rubber, pepper and orange.

“Most of the rubber plantation are old plants which require new seeds in order  to produce a lot of sap,” said Ridho. However, in recent years, rubber has been started to be left out by the villagers, turned it into pepper and orange. The reason is the high economic value.

Twenty years ago, Sambas orange was a leading commodity in West Kalimantan. In Jakarta, it is known as Pontianak orange. However, this commodity has collapsed due to pest attacks. In the last few years, farmers have again been trying to make this citrus commodity successful.

“It takes the support of all parties, including the government in increasing agricultural production managed by Penakalan Village community,” he added.

Gemawan Institute is currently assisting five villages in Sambas Regency, for the Village Women School Program. The objective is so that women in the area are dare to speak up and fight for their destiny.

Laily Khairnur, Director of Gemawan Institute, said that the village empowerment program is indeed targeting women. They received a certificate, indicating they have passed the first phase of the program.

“The five villages which are in the first batch consist of Penakalan, Sekuduk and Sulung Villages in Sejangkung District. Then, Lumbang and Sebayan Villages in Sambas District. Of the five villages, there are 40 mothers and female teenagers. ”

Village Women School was held in each hall of the villages with two meetings a week. “There were eight materials presented in each village,” explained Laily.

Gemawan wants villages to not only focus on village funds for physical development, but overlook the community empowerment program. The thing is, according to the constitution regarding village, activities through village funds can answer the crisis of democracy and development. “Whereas, the people are in the village,” said Laily.

Young generation loves farming

Previously, the Regent of Sambas Atbah Romin Suhaili, to the media, invited the younger generation to have the willingness to farm so that food security will improve. “Above all, how to emerge young generation who love farming,” he said.

He hopes and prays for the farmers in Sambas to be prosperous and have a better standard of living. Regarding the farmers’ issues in the field, Atbah encouraged related departments and the farmers to build communication and improve agriculture.

“In the future, Sambas will export rice because its production is the largest in Kalimantan and is expected to have its own brand.” He hoped.

Deputy Chairman of Commission II of West Kalimantan DPRD, Suib, encouraged local government to be able to empower rural land for local food security. “We still cannot assure the peak of COVID-19. I hope local food security programs will be prioritized,” he said.

He stated, the factor of crop yields that were not abundant, as in normal situations, had to be anticipated. Not to mention the problem of rare fertilizers plus the restrictions on activities causing farmers from being free to cultivate fields.

“The need for local food must be strengthened so that regional finances do not just run out,” he explained.

Suib appealed people in rural areas to farm. To push enthusiasm, it is necessary to provide support in the form of seeds, fertilizers, and equipment, so that farmers can produce satisfying harvests.

“I suggest that agricultural products are purchased by the government, either in the village or regency, or from the province govenment through the BUMDes or BUMD so that there is no longer solicitudes at the farmer level,” he explained.

In essence, if this program is maximized, the impact of COVID-19 will not be risky for the community. “There is nothing to lose if local resilience is strengthened. People will not starve and money velocity will be right on target, “he said.


photo: Aseanty Pahlevi

Repost by Gemawan

Food Fighters in Penakalan Village – Women Farmers
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