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Female Farmers On The Rise
Wednesday, 19 July, 2017 | 19:06 WIB
Female Farmers On The Rise

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta Young women in South Central Timor are trying their hand at cattle-breeding. This is part of an effort to reduce unemployment and stem the outflow of migrant workers. 

Small but with the bite of a chili pod, as the saying goes. Ivana Liunokas, an 80-pound, 19-year-old girl, does not seem weak when tending to her cows. She bathes her cattle twice a week, which means driving her 600-pound cows around two kilometers from the stables, and back. 

Iva did admit to feeling overwhelmed sometimes, in which case she would ask her father to take the cows back to the stables. "What can I do? I'm too small and the cows sometimes do not cooperate," said the Tesiayofanu Village resident. The village is located in the South Central Timor Regency of East Nusa Tenggara (NTT).

Iva had never considered cattle farming. Since childhood, Iva, whose father is a pig breeder, has aspired to become a policewoman, but because her parents wanted her to keep them company in the village, the dream was never fulfilled. After graduating from high school last year, Iva, instead, helped her parents tend to their three pigs and two cows. 

When she was younger, Iva did not want to have to care for the animals. Besides, some of her friends had left the village to find jobs in Kupang, NTT's provincial capital, some 150 kilometers away. She also had friends who left the country to work overseas. But attending the non-profit organization Plan International Indonesia's training program last October changed Iva's mind. 

In the village hall, Iva and dozens of other Tesiayofanu youngsters were given training in the soft as well as hard skills necessary for breeding livestock. Adriana Nomleni, the village chief's wife, rounded up the youths after she sent a proposal to Plan International Indonesia asking for aid in animal husbandry. "I received information from the radio that Plan wanted to empower youngsters in animal husbandry skills," said the 46-year-old.

Adriana's proposal was accepted last June, and she went to Kupang to attend a week-long training program on animal husbandry and gender equality. She used materials from the training to persuade the young people in her village, especially girls, to join in Plan International Indonesia and European Union's program called Strong CSOs for Inclusive Livestock Value Chain Development (SCILD). She also established an association for young female breeders named the Wanita Kasih--which has the double meaning of Women of Love and Women Giving. The association has 355 members, including Iva. 

Tesiayofanu's youngsters who join the SCILD receive aid in the form of one cow or bull each. The European Union raises and allocates funds for this purpose. "The program is an inclusive group--we target women, also the disabled--so that they participate in the regional development," said Vincent Guerend, the European Union's ambassador to Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam.

Last May, Guerend christened Tesiayofani as a 'cattle-breeding village'. The 19-square-kilometer village became NTT's first model village for cow breeding due to its 16 groups of active cattle breeders and the thousands of cows, pigs, goats, and chickens to be found in the village. 

South Central Timor Regent Paulus Mella said his office plans to replicate Tesiayofanu's animal husbandry model in other South Central Timor subdistricts. "Now, we are preparing facilities for feed and drinking water so that cattle breeders can be motivated to improve the quality of their livestock." 

Unemployment and the dearth of available jobs in NTT are why Plan International Indonesia chose to target this province in the SCILD program. According to data from Statistics Indonesia (BPS), in 2016, 78 percent of workers in NTT sought their income from the informal sector. Mingming Renata Evora, Plan International Indonesia's country director, noted that four out of every five workers in NTT are working without adequate social security. 

The low number of formal-sector workers is caused by a lack of jobs as well as poor skills. There is also the temptation to migrate to a big city or even overseas. "If the situation is not overcome soon, it can cause greater social unrest," Mingming said. Plan International works hand in hand with the district government to try to address this problem.

Read more inspiring Outreach stories in Tempo English Weekly Magazine



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