Putro Santoso Kurniawan, Dedication of Former Activists to Organic Farming for the Sake of Healthy Life

A farmer is spreading the organic fertilizer on top of the land that will be planted a vegetable.

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Every morning Putro Santos Kurniawan or Putro (43), is riding his two wheeler to his farm for 30 minutes from his residence. The farm lies in Ciareteun Ilir village, Cibungbulan Sub-District, Bogor Regency, West Java. This activity has been carried out for the last 15 years.

Putro is a successful farmer with 1.3 hectares of land and employs 4 persons. His farm is filled with various vegetables such as spinach, kale, choy sum, okra, and several other types of vegetables. Half of the land is planted with organic corps. The yields are enjoyed by themselves and most are sold, some go to supermarkets through suppliers, there are also to conventional markets through middlemen.

Although this dad of 2 children was graduated from the Department of Marine Science and Technology of the Faculty of Fisheries, IPB (Bogor Agriculture Institute), Putro enjoys his day as a farmer. For him, encouraging farmers is as much important as being a farmer.

Previously, it had never crossed his mind to become a farmer. Since he was young and still in college, Putro had spent a lot of time working in non-governmental organizations. He had spent many years working on coastal and marine issues such us worked at Jaring Pela (Indonesia Coastal and Marine Activists Network), WWF Marine program, and Coral 2000 project works for coral monitoring in Bali coasts. He eventually had his own organization called Palung that worked together with Kehati Foundation in the Thousand Islands.

“I was very young, strong and brave. I WAS ” Putro said laughing.

From the project he handled to neglecting education, brought Putro back to the capital and chose to settle in Bogor, West Java.

Saturated. Maybe the right word to describe what is implied in his mind. The inconsistency of work in NGOs because waiting for the project to arrive is also hot, feeling like playing the role of “heating” to invite other people to care about making it begin to glance at the real sector.

This desire was answered from a small discussion with environmental activists some time ago. At that time, Putro who was still active as a coastal environmental activist and ventured into various regions in Indonesia decided to leave the NGO and become a farmer.
A farmer is taking their harvest to the loading truck.

The Beginning of Farming

In 2003, Putro started to buy his own farmland until he got 1,3 Ha. Armed with his own land area of 1.3 ha and experience as a manager of the Pusdiklat in the Indonesian Farmers Union, Putro is more established to choose a profession as a farmer.

At present, of the arable land area, 50% is certified organic crop land in collaboration with IPB ADS (Agribussiness Development Station).

“This IPB ADS program helps farmers to get organic certification in accordance with the land quota, what is sold and adjusted to market needs,” explained Putro.

The land used for this program is indeed not extensive because if you increase the area of land it will increase the cost of certification, besides that, the quality of products and packaging must also be in accordance with the specified standards. he continued.

“We supply this organic harvest to IPB ADS. This ADS will supply to supermarkets. “Light Putro.

In addition to ADS, he also supplies to several supermarkets and shops adjacent to his area.

Although it must go through various procedures, the products offered to the market also produce quite high prices.

Cause food is not about the current state, but it includes a time dimension, it's all of its, past, now, and future.

Knowledge Constraints and Transfers

Starting with compounding 2,000 m2 of farmland in Tapos in 2004, Putro and an activist friend named Titis began life as farmers. Not long after, they began to actively discuss with the Indonesian Farmers Union (SPI) and participate in the Education for Farmers’ family-based Sustainable Agriculture held by SPI in the same year. After that, Putro and his friend rented agricultural land near the IPB campus, and then pioneered the SPI education center. In 2006 Putro began to repay to buy its own agricultural land until now it has reached 1 hectare. By renting 0.3 hectares from other farmers, the total land currently managed is 1.3 ha. At present, it can be said that Putro has become a successful farmer. Of the total land area, 50% have received organic certificates, the result of collaboration with ADS (Agribusiness Development Station) IPB, a business unit under the Science and Technopark Unit of IPB.

At present, of the arable land area, 50% is certified organic crop land in collaboration with IPB ADS (Agribussiness Development Station).

“We supply this organic harvest to IPB ADS. “This ADS will supply to supermarkets,” said Putro. In addition to ADS, he also supplies directly to several supermarkets and shops adjacent to his area.

Although it must go through various procedures, the products offered to the market also produce quite high prices.

Pekebun sedang menyirami tanaman sayuran

© Johanes Jenito

Hasil kebun yang melimpah

© Johanes Jenito

Difficulties and Knowledge Transfer

The public’s interest in healthy and chemical-free food is currently increasing. For farmers, the prices generated from organic crops also answer the need for their welfare, but certified land is still less extensive to answer the challenge.

Putro and 15 farmers in his village are building production groups. They hold monthly meeting with various agendas. For example, dividing farmers to plant certain types, product quality and good processing, making organic fertilizers, harvest quotas and up to discuss the opportunity of new markets.

“Within a day, one farmer can produce 30 kg of organic vegetables. Sometimes, there are types of vegetables that are not available due to lack of land or crop failure. Another time, all types of vegetables boomed so this group should apply queueing system in order to give all the farmers similar chance to sell their harvest to suppliers,” Putro explained.

From suppliers, their products will then be channeled to supermarkets. Although the income is promising, Putro felt that there was something lacking in this kind of system that somehow make it hard to farmers to have direct communication with consumers.

“I want to be able to directly communicate with consumers, so there will be discussions, enlightenments and transfer of knowledge about organic vegetables between farmers and consumers. This way, both sides will have respect to each other where the farmers will get the award for their efforts and consumers gain knowledge on the sources of healthy food, “Putro added.

Years ago Putro had tried couple of activities to make it happen. He went door to door and up to organize partnership with local PKK (Family Welfare Empowerment) Program. Unfortunately such experiments are not efficient for farmers. In his opinion, supermarkets are still not an ideal place for marketing organic products, because communication between producers and consumers still does not occur. “If the farmers’ products have a special forum, there would be knowledge sharing, interaction, a benchmark price that can increase the farmer’s value but it does not entrap consumers, it would be ideal.”

According to Putro, the presence of third party who are able to organize and become a means of knowledge sharing is crucial, so that farmers can concentrate more on producing quality products and consumers also have a better knowledge of food consumption. Direct relations between farmers and consumers also have the opportunity to improve the welfare of farmers because they no longer depend on middlemen. If there is a third party like this, Putro said he would be able to focus on preparing the diversification of his agricultural products. “There is a merchant ship, there is a warship,” said Putro.

I'm enjoying my farmer life, it's a kinda precious treasure

Part of the Kaoem Telapak Movement

Kaoem Telapak President Zainuri Hasyim is proud of Putro’s achievements. As one of the members of the association, explained Zainuri, Putro has been working on things that are in line with the goals of the organization.

“Because this organization exists to create the sovereignty, independence and dignity of the farmers, fishers and indigenous peoples of Indonesia,” added Zainuri
Farmers are clearing their land.
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