Nissa and Food Sovereignty Initiative in Pesantren

Some girls (santri) in Pesantren Ekologi Kebon Sawah, Garut disrict, West Jawa looking at blossom sun flower in the Pesantren yard. 
Assalammu'alaykum, 

Some day I read an article in Yusran Darmawan's blog titled "Malu Aku Jadi Petani Indonesia" that describe the dark side of peasant in Indonesia. Years ago, Soekarno as founding father stated that farmer is foundation of the nation. But, based on data from Central Statistic Bureu or Badan Pusat Statistik (BPS) shows that number of farmer in Indonesia will decrease to 34 million in 2019 from 37 million in 2011. Where is the 3 million people go? land conversion from farming area to another land use and the young generation who prefer became public officer or Pegawai Negeri Sipil (PNS) than farmer are the main reason of the issue. 

Then I remember the similar issue in my hometown. For several years farming area was converted to another land use such as for housing and DAM for support electricity. I remember that most of parents warned their children to be success person and never became poor and unlucky farmer like them. They want their descendant became a doctor, pilot, banker, teacher, lecturer, celebrity and business person. They also have their own definition about success that is when their children became public officer and works in government office in the city. No one desires that their children became success farmer (petani berdasi) because in their bones written that the word 'farmer' means poor, hopeless, unlucky and misery. As well as my family who wish for me became a banker. But, yeah, I never want to be a banker. 

Eventhough, I see the light of hope everywhere. For some years, many young and educated people who aware about agriculture issue in this country started to establishing and developing "food sovereignty" initiative. They learnt with farmer in the village, produced their own product and created local seeds bank. They plant for their own family and community, which is imitated by their neighbor and another community.

Nissa Wargadipura, a young mother who manage an Islamic Boarding School named Pesantren At-Thariq or most popular as Pesantren Ekologi Kebon Sawah" is model for a success farmer. Nissa and her husband manage farming area that with "Acak Kadut" or "Messy garden" concept just several meters from their home. They also involves their children and student. They plant many type of vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers and rice. If they want cook something, just walk to the garden and collect what they want for some minutes. Fresh and organic ingredient are available in 24 hours. 

Nissa promote their initiative and program in her Facebook. She share photos about their activity in Pesantren like children who playing happy with their rice field, flower, fish and their messy garden of course. Nissa and her husband learning together with their kids and student how to produce organic fertilizer, plant seeds, cultivate the baby plant, harvest, and share their happiness to more people. Their daily activity just tell us about happiness, cheerfulness and hope. They embrace their freedom and never worried about being starved. Just like they tell us "Hi, come here play with us the happy farmer". When the price of oil increase and its was affected to food price, or when the value of Indonesian rupiah depressed under American dollar, it never affect to their live. Since everything stocked in their garden for 24 hours, all is well.

Activities in Pesantren Ekologi At-Thariq, Garut, West Java.
Later on, this pesantren became popular. Many visitors as individual or communities come and learn the local initiative that Nissa and her husband develop. As local activist, Nissa also connected to some other local activists who spread similar initiative and movement. Visited this pesantren is like having vacation since its surround by green mountainous. The scenery is beautiful and fresh with bird song and blue sky. Due to her initiative, Nissa became spoke person for local and national forum related to food sovereignty and local initiative issues. For example, in a local Organic Food Festival in Kediri district, East Java, Nissa met with Dr. Vandana Shiva, a philosopher, eco-feminism, and writer who lead environment, nonviolent and food sovereignty movement in India.

Dr. Vandana was received The Right Livelihood Award or Nobel Alternative in 1993 for her idea and persistence to spread a movement about local seeds. She also help 54 communities in 18 states in India to establish bank of seeds. She also trains for more than 500.000 farmers to know about sustainable agriculture development and food sovereignty. This movement conducted to combat a genetic engineering company which was controlled the spreading of seeds in the whole word and make farmer suffer.  

 

Today, Nissa and her family in Pesantren Ekologi At-Thariq have been produce seed and organic tea that available for sale. She also in collaboration with organization which help community to sell their product, Teras Mitra. So we also can enjoy the Pesantren organic tea and plant the seeds in our garden. 

"We have to support the alumni of this Pesantren to stay in the village and establish new initiative. We have to detain them to work in the city," said Nissa. Some of alumni this Pesantren have been establishing new community in their hometown such as Organic Farmer Group and spread the initiative that they learned in Pesantren. 

Activity of Nissa and her family give us hope about the young generation who will became educated and modern farmer in Indonesia who will spread local initiative and local wisdom. We wish for those young generation who will lead the country to get our pride as agrarian country and save us from starving and eat cheap and poisonous food. We also wish that another Pesantren in Indonesia will imitate this initiative as basic learning process and foundation for their freedom. The last, lets support Nissa and her family initiative just by spread this article, buy their product, and visit their Pesantren. I hope this article will inspire us to create similar movement in our hometown and school.

Depok, August 2015


Wijatnika Ika

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