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Opportunity doesn’t knock twice. That’s the motto of the 50-year-old Yadi who works as a smallholder, cattle farmer, and round tofu seller. He juggles it all to improve his family’s economic condition.
When he was 13 years old, Yadi and his parents left their hometown in a small village in Wilayangan sub-district, Nganjuk, East Java to go and live in Kalimantan.
His family joined the transmigration program during the presidency of Suharto in 1983, becoming a part of the transmigrant community and settling in Pangkalan Tiga village, Pangkalan Lada sub-district, Kotawaringin Barat, Central Kalimantan.
Through the program, Yadi got a land of two hectares: a quarter of hectare for the yard, one hectare for plantation, and the rest of his land remains as forests. At the yard are planted secondary crops, sweet potato, and corn. And in his forest land, there are trees such as Falcataria moluccana and Shorea sp.
Yadi and his neighbors also joined the Tani Subur village unit cooperative (KUD) whose main purpose is to improve the local economy.
Apart from receiving land from the transmigration program, Yadi and other members of the Tani Subur KUD also obtained another hectare of land for planting oil palm trees from a nearby plantation company, and the land is managed together with the KUD. Their crops are then sold to the company.
In 2017, Yadi also frequently attended training sessions organized by the Tani Subur KUD and assisted by Yayasan Inobu.
One year later, the Tani Subur KUD obtained certificates for sustainable palm oil plantations from the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil System (ISPO). Because Yadi received both RSPO and ISPO certificates, he said he’s seen an increase in sales with more buyers. The profits from his sale are used for fertilizers, plantation tools, basic needs, and education expenses for his children.
His three children are currently studying at the elementary school, high school, and taking a course as part of informal learning. His oldest child, now 27, has had a family and works as a kindergarten teacher.
Moreover, Yadi and the other members of the oil palm farmer group also receive incentive from a large company which buys sustainable palm oil.
“Even though they have received rewards, the smallholders here are still striving to develop their oil palm plantation to increase their sales,” said Yadi.
Yadi’s perseverance can be seen from his entrepreneurial spirit, including his fried tofu business and other side jobs to increase his income.
Now, he’s also developing a cattle business and utilizing his cow manure for fertilizers. Thus, he no longer needs to buy fertilizer for his plantations.
Yadi, who had attended training in cow fattening methods, also introduced the cattle business to his fellow smallholders, promoting it as a profitable side job and an investment for the future.
Moreover, the fruits and crops he grows in his yard are also a source of income for him and his family. They harvest the crops, some of which they consume for themselves and the rest is sold to the market or their neighbors.
Nevertheless, the profits from palm oil are still the highest income compared to his other businesses. Yadi hopes that his oil palm plantation can become sustainable so that he can improve his family’s economy.