Wono Agung Farmers
Welcome to Wono Agung
Selamat Datang! Welcome to Wono Agung. We are unique farmer association comprising of the young generation of farmers. We have 1511 members in 7 sub-districts and 21 villages, and we are proud to have 50% of our farmers under 40 years of age. With the next generation management team from all walks of life coming together with a united vision in mind, we help to establish independent farmers that are full of innovation and modern mindset. We hope to be a role model and inspire the youths of Indonesia to be world-class organic farmers!
History of Wono Agung
Perkumpulan Petani Organic Wono Agung Wonogiri (PPOWW) or Wono Agung Organic Farmer Association of Wonogiri was born out of a message of a dying father to his son to make the farmers smile with happiness. The son, Djati, became our leader who founded Wono Agung in 2012, with a core management team made up of 4 young talented individuals named Hanjar, Harjanto, Yanto, and Mahmud, and 12 farmer members, with the aim to revitalize agriculture amongst the youth.
Our journey started years before Wono Agung was established, as we realized that Indonesia was facing a decline in the number of farmers, with most them being old. The younger generation did not want to take over because farming was deemed to be a low status job because its poor and unstable earnings. In fact, the farmers were encouraging their children to look for other jobs in big cities.
To solve this problem, we knew we had to embrace organic farming, as sustainability was the future. Back then, no one really understood the concept of ‘organic’ and how to practice it. We started with making our own organic fertilizer, and apply it to our own paddy fields. During the first harvest, there was a decrease in productivity by 50%, but we did not give up hope. It took us a few harvests until organic production finally surpassed conventional. And when it did, we knew that this result was life-changing, and we had to share our knowledge with other farmers. That was when we decided to establish Wono Agung!
Once it was set up, we decided to go for local organic certification standard (SNI) to achieve credibility, which we passed at the end of 2012. Our hardwork and efforts were thankfully recognized by the governor of Central Java, and our leader, Djati received a prestigious award as a pioneer and role model for environmental sustainability. This was the catalyst that helped us to get recognition amongst the community, and sales started to slowly increase.
In 2014, we decided to take sustainability into the next level by implementing SRI System of Rice Intensification, a cultivation method that can produce more with less natural resources. A unique factor of SRI is that rice field does not need to be flooded, but just kept moist. This gave us remarkable savings by up to 50% and helped distribute water to more paddy fields, even during the dry seasons. SRI also uses younger seedlings planted wider apart so that plant can have better root system, resulting in up to 78% more productivity. This means more income for the farmers - sustainably!
Achieving organic certification and positive results using SRI method gave us the confidence to attract the youths to become farmers. It was time to change the society’s mindset to stop looking down on farmers. We wanted to instill in people’s mind that farming was not only a essential and respectable job, but it was cool and the ‘in’ thing to do. We modernize our image by dressing trendier, and drive around in cars – a move that shocked everyone as farmers usually get around in motorcycle. More than externally on the surface, we also widened our mindset to include millennial know-hows; we upgraded our knowledge, became technologically savvy, and culturally relevant. We started participating in activities enjoyed by the youths, and soon, they realized that Wono Aging farmers not only modern, but full of achievements as well. This impressed the youths, and made them curious on how to be a successful organic farmer. We were thrilled at the response, and started mentoring them under our wing. Surprisingly 70% of the youths joining us were the children of the farmers who previously had no interest!
With the growing number of members, we were looking for a solution to help their farmers with the finances. Farmers had been traditionally relied on tengkulak, or loan shark traders, who were dominating the Indonesian agricultural sector. They usually gave working capital loans in the beginning of the planting season, and a high interest rate. During harvest, market price would fall leaving the farmers with more debt, and trapping them in poverty cycle for decades. We knew that they had to create a revolutionary system without tengkulak, and instead, one which empowers farmers to be independent entrepreneurs. In 2016, we founded a legal entity for farmers BUMP Badan Usaha Milk Petani, or Farmers Owned Enterprise. It is a new and powerful legal entity made up of farmer groups as majority shareholders. Once it was set up, we were credible enough to obtain working capital from the bank, and started to help their farmers to free themselves from tengkulak.
Embracing out-of-the box thinking had managed to help us get this far. But we wanted to be at the forefront of the organic industry. In 2017, we started aiming for the next big step – to be able to export and be recognized as one of the best organic producers internationally! We were looking for a partner we can work with to bring us to the next level, and Bloom Agro, a social enterprise helping small organic farmers to be world-class producers, was highly recommended to us by another farmer group who had worked with them. Bloom Agro came to visit us, and we instantly develop a deep connection having similar mindset, perspective, and vision. We immediately formed a long-term partnership and made future plans.
At the end of 2018, with the guidance of Bloom Agro and lots of hard work, we finally passed international organic certification for USA, EU, and Japan, and fair trade certification. Up to date, around 500 farmers have been certified with around 300 hectares of land producing rice, arenga sugar, spices, cashew nuts, and cacao. In early 2019, we started exporting around the world and the shipments arrived with positive feedbacks. Our buyers were impressed with the quality, and fell in love our story and social mission. We felt so blessed and grateful, knowing our dream that previously seemed impossible to achieve, was starting to come true and finally become a reality!
For our leader Djati, this journey started to fulfill his father’s dying wish. However, after going through blood, sweat, and tears, he realized that this is his true calling in life. Against all odds, he had managed to empower a new generation of farmers and led them to a new level of success. Their smiles and happiness inspired a deep and profound satisfaction to his soul.
As for Wono Agung, our journey continues, and the road ahead is still long. We are prepared to face future that will be filled with even more challenges. For us, problems are opportunities to make ourselves smarter, and we view them as blessings in disguise. We hope to inspire the seeds of change, and shape a better future for the world!
Wono Agung and Its Culture
We are situated close to Solo, a city heir of ancient Javanese Kingdom which is still ruled by a King or Sultan until now. Because of this proximity, our culture, language, and values are still largely influenced by the royal Javanese traditions. Like our kings, our farmers uphold the values of sincerity and hard work, and the willingness to change and learn from the mistakes. We believe in patience especially when working in the fields, and we not to get upset easily when something is wrong - we believe that anger weakens the immune system. Before we harvest, we have a tradition of inviting our neighbors to the wooden huts in our fields for a celebration meal. For us, harvest time is the most beautiful moment, as everyone in the village helps each other and uplifts the gotong royong or community spirit!
Our Location – Wonogiri
Wonogiri is a town and regency in Central Java with elevation of 140 m above sea level with nearly 1 million people who are most famous for agricultural skills. Our place name comes from Javanese language, which means forests (wono), and mountains (giri). We are known to be the place of 1000 mountains, because we are majestically circled by endless forests, hills, and mountains. In the middle lies our breathtaking organic rice terraces and fields, with of one of the most fertile soils in the world, which is mineral-rich due to the eruption of Mount Merapi in 1983. Wonogiri is also the home of spring mountain water that flows down Bengawan Solo, the longest river in Java. Legend has it that an angel came down to take a bath, and her blessings has given an abundance of pristine water that contributes to our organic fields having more planting seasons in a year than other regions!
There are many versions of Javanese language across the big island of Java. Our Javanese language is deemed to be the highest of its class due to the royal influence, and it follows a charming pattern in a soft-spoken respectful manner. Let’s learn a few words:
Good morning - sugeng enjing
How are you - pripun kabare
What is your name? – asmane sinten
Kamu cantik - jenengan ayu
Kamu ganteng - jenengan ganteng
Let’s be friends - ayo awak e dewe konconan
Please eat - ayo dahar
It so delicious - enak tenan
Please drink - monggo ngungjuk
Let’s have fun! - ayo dolan bareng
You’re funny - sampean lucu
Let’s go – monggo tindak
Terimah kasih banyak - matur nuwun sanget
Did you know?
- Most of the people work in Wonogiri work in agriculture as farmers. We love prododucing food!
- Javanese cashew is rare in quantities, and Wonogiri cashew is highly demanded due to its creaminess and natural sweetness.
- Due to our hilly landscape, we have 41 caves, and we believe that some are still undiscovered!
- A tourist attraction is our Gajah Mungkur Dam, which is built to generate electricity and provide water to the rice terraces along Bengawan Solo river. The locals however, enjoy relaxing and fishing along the damn, and having a scrumptious feast of grilled fish with the family.
- Kahyangan in Wonogiri is historical place famous for spiritual tourism. It was a sacred space for the first King of ancient Javanese Mataram Kingdom, and it has become a place for many to self-reflect, seek peace, and blessings. It is also home to a magnificent waterfall!
- Want to have a bird’s eye view? The hills of Sendang village offers paragliding and hang-gliding sports activities. This place is open for everyone, and is often used by athletes to train in these sports.
- Our villagers are talented in the art of making traditional batik, a cloth with repeated patterns using wax and dye technique. It is an ancient tradition that has been practiced for centuries and passed down from one generation to the next.