In Cicendo, a city district in Bandung, Indonesia, a growing community of women have found a passion for planting their own crops in their back gardens.
Most of them are stay-at-home mothers, hoping to boost their family’s income from selling the harvest. This is part of a movement to support the local community who are interested in farming by utilizing a small land in the area.
Education, empowerment and entrepreneurship
The initiative is led by Dini Siti Hanifah, a sustainable agriculture specialist at the Teras Hijau Project (THP). THP works in collaboration with the Bandung's local government and aims to drive sustainable solutions around innovations that can enhance biotechnology capacity and facilitate entrepreneurship.
A community advocate with a passion for agriculture
Dini's passion for agriculture began when she was a child. Her family used to own a small field where her parents would grow crops spinach and Chinese cabbage, banana, melon, and pomegranate. They would share their harvest with friends and neighbours, or sell to local vendors.
Ever since her Sales Management role in the department of an organic agriculture company, Dini has enjoyed helping her community. In this role, she often visited the retail shops of her partners, and noticed that organic products were priced much higher and were unaffordable for most people. The only difference Dini could see between organic and non-organic products were their labels – organic products were labelled ‘non-pesticide’ or ‘natural’ and that made them much more valuable.
Unaffordable produce hits middle-to-low income families hardest
Middle to low-income families don't have the disposable income to spend on high priced fruit and vegetables. This poor access to food also poses the problem of a lack of nutrition, whilst potentially causing supply chain delays for people in the city who are still reliant on produce that comes from farmers in suburban or rural areas. Dini felt that the city’s food security was at risk if this was to continue.
Like minded folk coming together
Soon after this, Dini met like-minded people who were as concerned as she was about food security in Bandung city. Together, they were motivated to solve the issue and created THP to help the community. THP is a platform that brings together people with the same concerns of food security, providing them with training, seminars and planting and harvesting activities that teach sustainable farming. They then facilitate the process of bringing the harvest to market and fetching higher prices for goods to increase profitability and income for the community.
Dini’s role as Sustainable Agriculture Specialist involves introducing new techniques like permaculture - a practice of building agricultural ecosystems in a self-sufficient and sustainable manner.
A risk worth taking
In countries like Indonesia where gender norms and biases are deeply entrenched in society, there is a stigma that agriculture isn’t a woman’s industry. Breaking this stigma motivated Dini to push harder to get to where she is today, along with the passion instilled in her since childhood.
She recalls the immense feeling of satisfaction watching seeds transform into harvestable produce. From that moment, she became curious about agriculture, food, and farming. This curiosity followed her through her youth, and she decided to take up agriculture in university, which was a bold and risky decision that women didn't usually do. But ultimately, it was a risk worth taking.
“Women are capable of working anywhere, and agriculture is not an exception”, says Dini, who strongly believes that even a small garden can help to create food security for a family in rural Indonesia.
Dini and her team at THP hope to win the support of more government programs so that they can continue supporting the community and protect food security. Right now, THP is heavily reliant on the community fund from the university program and have the support of the local government, but more funding and support from the central government is required to ensure the sustainability of the program. Find out more about the Teras Hijau Project here and learn how you can support them too: https://www.terashijauproject.org/