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Stronger, more fruitful together

By: GAR Posted: April 2, 2017 133 views

H. Misdan, Community Leader and Chairman of the Smallholder Cooperative, 52 years old, Riau

“I moved to Riau from West Java 25 years ago as a migrant farmer to grow oil palm trees. The government guaranteed food and basic necessities for a year but it would take four years before the trees would bear fruit. Despite the circumstance, I worked the land, and it was difficult. Many migrant farmers gave up and went home.

When the fresh fruit bunches finally grew, I worked as a harvester too. And like any other farmer, I dreamt of owning land to grow and sell fresh fruit bunches to the company the smallholders were supplying to. Seemed like it would be a long journey.

Misdan, The Community Leader
Misdan, the Community Leader

Being part of the Smallholder Cooperative made my dream came through easier. The company helps with seeds, fertilisers, and crop management, as well as training and loans. My crops are healthier and my yield is higher because of these resources.

My determination paid off—four years ago, I became the Chairman of the Smallholder Cooperative and the meaning of my work changed. I was no longer motivated by income alone. I now have great responsibility over 350 cooperative members which are farmers. I know what they need to sustain themselves and their families.

Misdan speaking to farmers under his care.
Misdan speaking to farmers under his care.

I hold monthly meetings with the farmers to discuss their issues, from wages to losses. It is important to be open and transparent with them and one of the main issues I often counsel them on is loans. Farmers need to understand the bank loans and whether or not they can afford the installments based on their harvest in the duration specified.

I am proud of the farmers because they work hard and smart. And I believe in being rewarded by hard work—we achieve a yield of 1,500 tonnes per month now.”

Watch how GAR is helping smallholders increase their yield here.

Click here to discover more stories behind the extraordinary, everyday lives of the people transforming palm oil.