Healthy farmers and business alternatives
Indonesia is taking numerous steps to tackle the coronavirus. Our local employees are helping with a farmer health awareness campaign. They are also working closely with our recently created agriservice centers.
"COVID-19 has a strong grip on the Asia-Pacific region”, says Teddy Tambu, our Country Director for Indonesia. “Governments are reacting as best they can to stop the pandemic spreading. Our country has numerous restrictions in place. Many of these directly affect farmers and the food supply chain.” Ensuring food security in the world’s fourth most populous country is a crucial challenge.
The serious limiting of social interactions affects many activities and all age groups. “In the food sector, for example, many markets are closed. Transport is often difficult, particularly over the long distances typical for our huge nation”, reports the Foundation’s local Agriservices lead Ronny Setyawan. “Furthermore, most hotels and restaurants have ceased operations and stopped buying from farmers. In many businesses, people are only reachable at home”.
These challenges have come just as our Indonesian team was successfully building up the network of Pancer Tani (PT) agriservice centers. “Business has slowed down for a lot of them”, reports Ronny. “Our team is doing its best to find alternative ways for PT staff to serve rural customers. Personal interaction is difficult because of the restrictions, so we are stepping up digital communication and the use of special apps.”
The Syngenta Foundation has also provided masks for PT owners and their families. PT success, however, ultimately depends on healthy farming communities. “We’re particularly concerned because farmers are understandably doing all they can to maintain their commercial livelihoods”, Ronny comments. “Many are still bringing in crops, doing their post-harvest activities like corn shelling, while also buying, selling, and pursuing other important activities. For those farmers who additionally run a PT, it’s a double burden.”
Fortunately, the Indonesian government is engaged in a major health drive. “We’re supporting it by urging farmers to practice proper handwashing and take due hygiene care when entering and leaving the house”, says Teddy Tambu. “All our PT from Sumatra, Java, and right across to East Nusa Tenggara have joined in this awareness campaign.” Syngenta Foundation employees are also promoting health protocols at partner organizations and in rural government offices. “We really hope that this campaign will slow the spread of COVID-19, particularly among farmers”, adds Ronny Setyawan.
Like other Syngenta Foundation teams across Asia and Africa, Indonesian colleagues are also running all their technical discussions, field, and activity reports, and internal training via phone and digital meeting platforms. The same applies to discussions with partners and PT owners. “It’s a difficult time”, agrees Teddy, “But that makes it all the more important to keep in touch.”
Read how our teams in India and Kenya are tackling the crisis:
- India https://www.syngentafoundation.org/articles/news/bringing-relief-locked-down-farmers
- Kenya https://www.syngentafoundation.org/articles/agricultural/farmers-hubs-help-kenyan-farmers-adapt-pandemic
- Bangladesh https://www.syngentafoundation.org/news/recent-news/fresh-produce-floods-and-video-calls
See below a gallery of pictures showing our colleagues' activities in Indonesia