Dozens of companion of Bina Desa’s Self-developing Rural Communities or Komunitas Swabina Pedesaan (KSP) from various regions in Indonesia gathered in Indramayu on March 13-18, 2017. They were there to attend a series of activities of Rural Schools or Sekolah Pedesaan (SEPEDA) run by Bina Desa. In addition to community companion, among the participants there were also several local government officers who care about rural issues and want to learn together in order to make better policies for their citizens. Also present Indramayu Mayor Anna Sophana who gave opening remark to begin the event.
Participants at this time were given the exposure of the empowerment of farmers and fisher folks that occurred in the field in a seminar titled “Implementation of Protection and Empowerment of Farmers and Fisher Folks in the Region”. Present as the speakers Asep Suryana of Indramayu Fisheries and Marine Department, Ishaq of Indramayu Department of Agriculture, Dwi Astuti of Bina Desa, and Budi Laksana of Indonesian Fisher Folk’s Union.
In reality, government policies still have many aspects that do not favor of the people, one of which is gender discrimination. Dwi Astuti in her presentation explained that women are still not regarded as an important part. For example, according to Bina Desa’s Operation Director, women are often not invited to both agricultural and fisheries training, while in Indonesia there are quite a lot of women fisher and women farmers.
After the seminar, government policies are discussed in more comprehensive agrarian policy analysis training by Gunawan of the Indonesian Human Rights Committee for Social Justice (IHCS). According to him, all this time, agrarian matter are still seen in a narrow scope even though the range is wide so that there are many aspects that escape discussion.
Once equipped with an understanding of the Farmers and Fisher Folks Protection and Empowerment Act (UU Perlintan Layan), the participants get materials about organization skills ranging from social analysis techniques, global analysis, critical awareness education, as well as understanding the role and function of the cadre. All participants are first divided into groups based on the group work as well as their geographical proximity interchangeably to then analyze the existing social problems engulfing their profession and regions.
From the social analysis, it is known that the main problem faced by fisher folks and farmers groups are more or less the same, namely the aids given by the government do not match the needs of the people, business uncertainty, difficulty seeking capital, as well as the persistence of discrimination against women in the policy. For the village officials group analysis, the main problems are lack of policies socialization from the central government, as well as lack of facilities and infrastructure to support the villagers activities. The village official group hope that there are synergies between the policies about Rural Act with the Farmers and Fisher Folks Protection and Empowerment Act that the village officials can have the authority to establish production facilities as needed.
To solve these problems, the participants discuss and learn how to be a community companion and stimulating the self-organization within society. Participants made a follow-up plans, not only to each village of KSP, but also in the region. Follow-up plans agreed include conducting training sessions in each area to continue the knowledge that has been obtained from SEPEDA, also stimulating discussion and forums in order to build awareness of the transformative consciousness towards just and sovereign rural life. In those plans, each region is planning to share knowledge and expertise to other areas if needed.
This event held in a full week contains only a few aspects of a series of SEPEDA whose activities are divided into several sections which will be held throughout the year. (bd020)