Indonesia turns tech-savvy millennials into skilled farmers

In most parts of the developed and developing world, today’s youngest workforce cohort, the millennials, are tech-savvy youngsters attracted by respective city jobs, tech firms or startups, if they are diligent enough.

Indonesia wants to take exactly that talent back to the grassroots and two years ago unveiled a plan to turn 2.5 million millennials into farmers within five years, a Bloomberg News report published on November 27 points out.

And the programme so far has been met with success.

While some critics were quick to say that this would be a waste of skilled labour, the initiative has more in it than it seems. In fact, the government wants to utilise tech talent to transform its agricultural sector into a more efficient and innovative industry.

Despite a tropical climate and some of the largest areas of fertile land in Southeast Asia, the country’s farms often lack the capital, expertise and technology to run efficiently, while wages are low and the work is arduous and farming output unpredictable.

For that reason, the number of Indonesia’s farmers and the supply of agricultural products has been shrinking over the past decades and increased the necessity of imports including sugar, soybeans and onions.

Focus on innovative framing skills

The trend seems to be stabilising now as 1.6 million young Indonesians have been trained as farmers with an emphasis to innovate, not just to maintain a tradition.

The government provides training for 19- to 39-year-olds in domestic schools, but also through international training schemes in countries including Japan, South Korea and Australia where the millennials can acquire skills ranging from modern soil management to online marketing, operating equipment like smart greenhouses, improving harvesting schedules in accordance with market demand and deploying new cultivation technologies.

West Java, Indonesia’s largest province, has its own program to encourage would-be millennial farmers. The scheme, which focuses on high-margin goods such as ornamental plants and quail eggs, offers small plots of land, supply deals and loans of up to 50 million rupiah ($3,470).

Those taking part in the programme are saying that their new jobs are not only satisfying from an innovative viewpoint, but can at times also be financially more rewarding that working in an office job.

Decelerating trend

Still, the broader impact of the programme has to be assessed in the long run, the government says. It seems to have decelerated the drop in Indonesia’s farming population compared to the global trend.

There were 38.8 million Indonesian farmers as of February 2021, a drop of 2.5% since 2018 which is slower than the fall in the global share of traditional agricultural workers which has been dropping for decades as automation wipes out roles and job-seekers turn to better-paid and less physically demanding employment in cities.



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In most parts of the developed and developing world, today’s youngest workforce cohort, the millennials, are tech-savvy youngsters attracted by respective city jobs, tech firms or startups, if they are diligent enough. Indonesia wants to take exactly that talent back to the grassroots and two years ago unveiled a plan to turn 2.5 million millennials into farmers within five years, a Bloomberg News report published on November 27 points out. And the programme so far has been met with success. While some critics were quick to say that this would be a waste of skilled labour, the initiative has more...

In most parts of the developed and developing world, today’s youngest workforce cohort, the millennials, are tech-savvy youngsters attracted by respective city jobs, tech firms or startups, if they are diligent enough.

Indonesia wants to take exactly that talent back to the grassroots and two years ago unveiled a plan to turn 2.5 million millennials into farmers within five years, a Bloomberg News report published on November 27 points out.

And the programme so far has been met with success.

While some critics were quick to say that this would be a waste of skilled labour, the initiative has more in it than it seems. In fact, the government wants to utilise tech talent to transform its agricultural sector into a more efficient and innovative industry.

Despite a tropical climate and some of the largest areas of fertile land in Southeast Asia, the country’s farms often lack the capital, expertise and technology to run efficiently, while wages are low and the work is arduous and farming output unpredictable.

For that reason, the number of Indonesia’s farmers and the supply of agricultural products has been shrinking over the past decades and increased the necessity of imports including sugar, soybeans and onions.

Focus on innovative framing skills

The trend seems to be stabilising now as 1.6 million young Indonesians have been trained as farmers with an emphasis to innovate, not just to maintain a tradition.

The government provides training for 19- to 39-year-olds in domestic schools, but also through international training schemes in countries including Japan, South Korea and Australia where the millennials can acquire skills ranging from modern soil management to online marketing, operating equipment like smart greenhouses, improving harvesting schedules in accordance with market demand and deploying new cultivation technologies.

West Java, Indonesia’s largest province, has its own program to encourage would-be millennial farmers. The scheme, which focuses on high-margin goods such as ornamental plants and quail eggs, offers small plots of land, supply deals and loans of up to 50 million rupiah ($3,470).

Those taking part in the programme are saying that their new jobs are not only satisfying from an innovative viewpoint, but can at times also be financially more rewarding that working in an office job.

Decelerating trend

Still, the broader impact of the programme has to be assessed in the long run, the government says. It seems to have decelerated the drop in Indonesia’s farming population compared to the global trend.

There were 38.8 million Indonesian farmers as of February 2021, a drop of 2.5% since 2018 which is slower than the fall in the global share of traditional agricultural workers which has been dropping for decades as automation wipes out roles and job-seekers turn to better-paid and less physically demanding employment in cities.



Support ASEAN news

Investvine has been a consistent voice in ASEAN news for more than a decade. From breaking news to exclusive interviews with key ASEAN leaders, we have brought you factual and engaging reports – the stories that matter, free of charge.

Like many news organisations, we are striving to survive in an age of reduced advertising and biased journalism. Our mission is to rise above today’s challenges and chart tomorrow’s world with clear, dependable reporting.

Support us now with a donation of your choosing. Your contribution will help us shine a light on important ASEAN stories, reach more people and lift the manifold voices of this dynamic, influential region.

 

 

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