Hajah Yuyu - Women can have it all!
I believe that food is a nurturing way to share our love. In the past, I thought I could boost my production by using chemicals, but instead, the soil lost its fertility and decreased my harvest. It made me worried, as it was harder to feed my children. I decided to put my motherly instinct into good use, and adopt a more sustainable organic method, System of Rice Intensification (SRI), which nourish the soil back to health and increased my productions. Along with Sunria's fair trade commitment, I was able to have savings, and fulfill my longtime dream of owning a small business. Now, my little shop, popular for its handmade rice snacks, is a favorite spot for my grandchildren, and has become a place filled with love!
Hajah Yuyu looks like the grandma that every kid would love to have. She is always smiling, and drawing others in with her warmth. Her little new shop is surrounded by people who love her hospitality, and delicious handmade snacks..
“I have been farming for 42 years now,” she told her story. Considering that she was born in 1951, she started when she was 21 years old. “At that time, we were growing rice the conventional way. The government introduced chemical fertilizers and pesticide as a way to increase production. However, our harvest decrease, and more and more over time. I had a really hard time. We did not even have enough to feed the family and I had 4 children,” she said.
“In 2006, I participate in a government program PET (Pembelajaran Ekologi Tanah) or the study of soil ecology, and was very surprised to learn that what I have done so far is damaging not only the soil, but the little living creatures that depend their lives on the soil. When I started learning about SRI (System of Rice Intensification), I was even more surprised to learn that paddy is not an aquatic plant and it can even grow in pots! It turns out that flooding the rice field is equal to drowning all soil organisms. Without them, the soil cannot function properly, and give good nutrition to the plant,” Hajah Yuyu explained.
In 2007, she started converting to organic SRI method. The first season was hard for her. The water supply was low, and she has not mastered the skill of making her own compost. During the harvest, her productivity remained the same. She did not give up though. She increased her efforts, and it paid off – her production increased by 10%!
In 2008, she joined Gapoktan Simpatik, and become the first group to be internationally certified for organic and fair trade rice in Indonesia. If you ask her fellow farmers, they will say that she is a hardworking woman. “ I like to get down and dirty. I go down to the fields and I am able to do almost everything myself! I try not to rely on men” she proudly announced. “It is hard work, but I am very focused to achieve my dream. I want to be able to own a little shop one day.”
She is very happy to be involved in a fair trade system because she can get a better price for her harvests, and fulfill her dreams. “Because I have savings, I can finally build my little shop. I started with a very modest investment of 3 juta rupiah (about 300 usd) for the building materials, and 1 juta (about 100 usd) for inventory.” Hajah Yuyu said.
Her little shop is most known for her delicious little snacks that she makes out of rice. “I love rice, and there is so many food you can do it with. I make a special recipe of ranginang (rice crackers with coconut milk), and dodol (sweet rice paste). I have 8 grandchildren now from my 4 children, and its really warn-heartening to see them come to my little store and ask grandma for dodol!” she beamed.
So it seems that Hajah Yuyuh has everything to be thankful in life- a job she is passionate about, a business that is growing, and a family who loves her!