The first point I shared is the philosophy of organic farming. Organic is not about how to use organic materials, but more than that, it is about maximizing the use of local resources owned by farmers. Of course, what I learned in ARI differs technically from what I am going to make in my community because of differences in local resources.
I was also so impressed by the concept of food self-sufficiency during my training at ARI. Now, my community faces problems with food procurement. Even though they are farmers, they still buy food from outside. Actually, they could produce enough food for their family through a home garden program. I encourage farmers to prepare their own food by producing it on their own land. Also, I shared about servant leadership. PETRASA’s staff was very impressed to hear of the unique style of servant leadership.
Together with the agriculture division staff, we gave a training on how to make compost, bokashi, and natural pesticide with the concept of using local resources. We also made some demonstration plots in the village as a role model of organic farming and also to fulfill the demand for organic products by consumers.
As a rural leader in my community, I always adopt the servant leadership style in every word and action. In many discussions with farmers, I have already changed my approach. Before, I did not give them many opportunities to speak and express opinions. Now, I encourage them to be confident as the main actors in solving their problems. Especially to the farmers, who are called voiceless, I persuade them with personal approaches to dare to speak in front of many people. I was also inspired while at ARI to use my position as a rural leader to serve my community and not to be served.
At the beginning of the year, PETRASA made a structural change, and I was chosen as the head of the marketing division. I really adopted my experience while at ARI into the PETRASA marketing division, including the Teikei System. The Teikei system shows how to build a relationship between producers and consumers, and now we do that in our marketing system. We try to gain consumer trust by holding various programs, including inviting consumers to visit farmers’ organic land directly. The other thing that we adopt from the Teikei System is how to decide the price. Like the Teikei system, we determine the price not by the market price, but between the producers and the consumers, who sit down together and determine the price, considering the conditions of farmers as providers of healthy products.
I really felt the impact of the ARI’s training to increase my capacity as a rural leader. Not only did ARI increase my knowledge of organic farming, livestock, and servant leadership; but also the training helped me to find and think deeply about what exactly is my role in my community and what I have done for my community.