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Story From Ana Leko

As treasurer of the Ana Leko group in Pero Village, Cornelia Arista Bouka, familiarly called Rista, is a farmer assisted by YBTS. The 30 year-old woman has never stopped encouraging the members of her farmer group to plant vegetables, because she has felt the benefits from the learning outcomes from the tomato demonstration plots she has experienced in the group.

The group’s name, Ana Leko, means inviting friends to work together. It seems that the group has indeed lived to its name. With the continuous motivation by Rista, twenty members diligently grow vegetables to supplement their family income. She said that at first they planted corn and cayenne pepper, however, due to lack of knowledge and perseverance, they often experienced failure, so that their income was minimal.

Since the local PPL together with YBTS provided training, mentoring, and hands-on practice in the demonstration plots, members of this group have managed to earn around IDR 10,800,000 from 1,200 tomato plants. They were even more excited when a distributor directly bought the vegetables from their garden and was satisfied with the quality of the tomatoes they planted.This aroused the passion of the members to seriously grow vegetables. Each member plants on her own land, harvests every month, and sells vegetables in the village and surrounding villages. There are also many traders who come to collect vegetables from the garden to be sold at the district market. Rista also encouraged the youth, namely high school graduates who did not continue to higher education, to pursue growing vegetables as a livelihood. She provides seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides for around 10 youths who have now cleared 500 m2 of land to plant cayenne pepper, the produce of which will become their income.

Group members also become motivated so they can buy seeds to grow sustainably. Rista and her group members were determined not to depend on YBTS because it was proven that with the income from growing vegetables, they were able to be independent in growing their vegetable business. Together with her husband, who is also the head of the Ana Leko group, Rista has the aspiration to buy a 3-wheeled motorbike worth IDR 30 million, to be used to carry vegetables from their garden as well as from group members to the market.

Another source of happiness is the improved variety of vegetables available for consumption. Compared to earlier, when they only consumed cassava leaves and papaya leaves as side dishes, now they have several types of vegetables in their gardens, such as mustard greens, kale, tomatoes, carrots and long beans, which can be consumed by the family members. “We will continue to be passionate about planting because our books are gardens and our pens are hoes,” said Rista explaining her motto. The Ana Leko farmer group remains committed to mobilizing group members to be able to improve the family’s economy through growing vegetables.

This story is part of the Agricultural Livelihood Improvement Program (PERMATA) implemented by the Bina Tani Sejahtera Foundation (YBTS) and supported by the William & Lily Foundation (WLF). This program lasts for 2 years from 1 October 2021 to 30 September 2023.

Written by: Junike Medah (YBTS)

Edited by: Mariska Estelita (WLF)