Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Learning more about Indonesian rice farmers

By Trina Leah Mendoza and Rowell Dikitanan

CORIGAP social scientists interviewed farmers in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in late May to early June 2014 to
learn more about their current rice management practices, market access, gender equity, and women empowerment.

Farming practices, yield, and income

A baseline household survey was conducted in four villages (two treatment and two control villages) in Yogyakarta to document current farming practices, yield levels, income, knowledge and attitudes on crop management options, as well as environmental indicators.

CORIGAP agricultural economist Rowell Dikitanan and plant protection specialist Arlyna Budi Pustika from Yogyakarta’s Assessment Institute of Agricultural Technology (AIAT) coordinated the survey with a team of interviewers composed of officers from AIAT and local extension, and graduates from Instiper University.

A total of 180 farmers were interviewed using a computer-assisted personal interviewing (CAPI) software. Before the conduct of survey, the interviewers were trained by Mr. Dikitanan for them to become
familiarized with the questions and CAPI soft ware. Regular consultations were conducted to ensure collected data were correctly entered and to address problems encountered by interviewers.

Initial results indicate that majority of farmers, most of whom were male, have small rice plots of about 0.09–0.26 hectare. Their average yield ranges from 4.40 to 6.08 metric tons per hectare at 14% moisture content.

Most farmers have adopted a rice-rice-palawija (e.g., corn, soybean, peanut, chili) cropping system. They practice manual transplanting, harvesting, and threshing. Transplanting is usually done by female laborers. During harvesting and threshing, there is not enough labor due to the aging population of farm laborers.

Market access, gender equity, and women empowerment

Dr. Pieter Rutsaert, CORIGAP postdoctoral fellow, conducted focus group discussions with a total of 91
farmers to investigate market access and evaluate gender equity and women empowerment in the CORIGAP project villages.

“In terms of women empowerment at a household level, a good, strong balance exists between husband and wife, and household decisions are made together,” shares Dr. Rutsaert. “At the community level, however, women are not included in main farmer group decisions (such as variety selection), and female farmer
organizations generally do not receive information from extension officers.”

Women have few or no options besides rice farming, although they are open to learn new technologies.
The respondents showed interested in postharvest quality improvement, food processing, and producing nonagricultural products such as batik (traditional Indonesian-designed cloth), but they need access to more knowledge through extension services.

Highlights of farmers’ discussions on market access included the time of selling rice having a big influence on its price. Farmers sell directly to traders, not millers, since milling is a service that farmers have to pay for. Farmers prefer a mobile milling unit that comes to their houses because it is more convenient. The stable milling unit, however, produces more, better quality rice (less broken rice).

Dr. Rutsaert identified opportunities that could improve market access such as improving the drying process to reduce broken grains, and use of airtight IRRI Super Bags for better storage to delay the time of selling until market prices increase. He also recommends strengthening training and extension services to male and especially female farmer organizations, emphasizing the need to organize female farmers and arm them with more knowledge and skills.

Results of these interviews and surveys will guide CORIGAP scientists and national partners in using the best
rice management practices, participatory methods, and science-based tools to raise farmers’ livelihoods and profit in project sites in Indonesia.

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