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  • GrowHer

Pepelakan's approach to community farming for better income

Meet Clare Aryani, the Co-Founder of Pepelakan Farm, a community-driven initiative that supports the production of locally and organically grown crops in Indonesia.

Established in 2019 during the COVID-19 pandemic, Clare knew she needed to do something when she realized the prevalence of food insecurity was so severe in Indonesia. “I had a responsibility to my community which I needed to fulfil for better food security,” she says.

Pepelakan Farm brings together rural farmers – both men and women – to practice organic farming on its land for better crop health and income, while minimizing risks that comes with land ownership (such as exposure to diseases and erratic weather).

“After completing my masters in Exeter, I wanted to come back home to connect to my roots and use my education to give back to the community. I was in a position to help people and I wanted to make the most of it,” Clare adds.

Despite the challenge of operating during a pandemic, Pepelakan has been successful at bringing farmers onboard and they hope to begin expanding soon.

“It’s been really easy getting farmers involved. But the challenge is getting them to try new ways of farming. Many of our farmers have been farming for decades and are set in their ways,” she adds.

However, after some nudging and influence, most farmers decide to give Clare’s recommendation a try, which is often met with success.

“I’m really lucky that I haven’t been discriminated against in the farm. Everyone at Pepelakan treats others like an equal, and it’s great to have formed this culture right from the beginning.”

Despite the inclusivity that Pepelakan provides, some women prefer to take up ‘back-end’ roles on the farm. “It’s totally understandable that some women might prefer working in the finance side of things. We provide them the opportunity to enhance those skills with basic accounting training.”

Addressing the gender pay gap will continue to remain at the forefront of Pepelakan’s goals, which they will achieve through fair hiring and compensation practices. “At the same time, it is important not to ignore the gender conversation, which can happen quite often in the agriculture industry.”

For as long as she could remember, Clare has always wanted to be a farmer. “My mum had a green farm and it always inspired me. Despite its challenges, the career is very alluring,” she says.

To all the women that want to take up agriculture – Clare says, “Keep educating yourself, build up a network and support other women when you can.”

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