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GEDSI Spotlight: Planting Seeds in the Hands of Women



The rice seed producer revamping its sales and outreach strategy to reach more women farmers 

In Central Java, PRISMA is partnering with high-yielding rice seed producer Agrosid (PT Agrosid Manungal Sentosa/ PT Primasid Andalan Utama) to ensure women farmers have access to seeds and information on good agricultural practices to grow their yields and skills.

A lazy farmer is a happy farmer

Ibu Narto is in her field in Central Java with Pak Joko, a senior agronomist at a high-yielding rice seed producer, Agrosid. 

“Being a Mapan (high-yielding rice) farmer is like being a lazy farmer,” says Ibu Narto

“Being a Mapan (high-yielding rice) farmer is like being a lazy farmer,” says Ibu Narto, a rice farmer from Central Java.

Mapan is a hybrid seed, a high-yielding rice seed variety that requires less water and less fertiliser than local varieties (seeds gathered from existing crops) and takes less time for farmers to tend. Meanwhile, it produces more rice than lower-yielding varieties. It’s also fluffier, more aromatic than retained seeds, and is a medium-long grain, a preference for Indonesians.

With her 8-month grandchild asleep at her feet and several small businesses on the go, time is something she could do with more of.

“The stems are thicker, so the rats can’t chew them and the leaves are taller, protecting the rice seeds from birds – less time shoo’ing birds,” she explains.

Ibu Narto’s home is in the flatlands of Central Java in a small village called Ngelo. The village is less than an hour from the city of Solo and accessed via a road gutted by many wet seasons. Small strips of dusty bitumen remain. On either side of the road is a patchwork of small rice fields managed by smallholder farmers.

With a small plot available to her, Ibu Narto's ambition is to maximise the benefit for her and her family.

Since using Mapan Ibu Narto’s rice yields have increased by 31 per cent (from 7.5 tonnes per hectare to 10.5 tonnes). 

Outreach for whom? 


PRISMA highlighted the gap in sales and marketing 

PRISMA's experience with agri-businesses has revealed a common oversight: sales and marketing strategies frequently focus solely on male farmers, disregarding how women like Ibu Narto access product information and services.

To address this issue and empower women with the necessary information for enhanced productivity, PRISMA collaborated with Mapan rice seed producer PT Agrosid Manungal Sentosa/ PT Primasid Andalan Utama (Agrosid). PRISMA’s overall partnership with Agrosid is to support the broader adoption of high-yielding rice seeds to improve the productivity of smallholder farmers.

PRISMA highlighted the gap in sales and marketing and the commercial opportunity to expand Agrosid's customer base by targeting women. PRISMA also provided evidence of women’s involvement in the rice cultivation process, that women are heavily involved in seed selection.

From there, Agrosid determined its new strategy. The first step was to train agronomists who work with farmers daily in the field, introduce women farmers' meetings in their area, and effectively communicate with women. The training provided specific information, such as adjusting the time of the day a farmer's meeting takes place to times women can attend, specifically inviting women when organising events and adapting how the event is run on the day by actively encouraging women’s participation.

Putting theory into action

“There is no feeling like participating in a (women farmer’s) event and seeing what you can do,” says Ibu Narto

Getting direct information from Pak Joko is very helpful

Pak Joko is a senior agronomist from Agrosid, overseeing more than 20 agronomists in Central Java and supervising his areas. He attended Agrosid’s training and, as a result, started women-only meetings and also mixed women and men farmer meetings. The meetings are held in the field, responding to farmers’ questions about their crops, and he offers his number for follow-up questions.

“We are changing how we talk to farmers, from always talking to the men to talking to women. We pay attention to the female participants in meetings and encourage their input,” says Pak Joko.

Ibu Narto, a farmer in Pak Joko’s area, has started communicating with Pak Joko on WhatsApp, asking him questions as needed.

“Getting direct information from Pak Joko is very helpful, and when I attend farmer’s events where I meet other farmers, I feel more confident in what I am doing,” explains Ibu Narto.

“We must receive information directly – so I can see and implement it immediately without relying on second-hand news through my husband. Using the high-yielding seeds is just the start,” says Ibu Narto.

Direct support from Pak Joko and the increased yields with Mapan P05 have led Ibu Narto to expand into new areas. She has started selling organic fertilisers and Trichoderma, a fungus that accelerates the composing process as a side business.

PRISMA has found that productivity increases are often re-invested into agriculture activities, providing further bumps in incomes and building resilience as farmers rely on more than one income source or crop.

In Pak Joko’s area, he has seen an increase in the % of women farmers at mixed meetings to 30%. Women are receiving more information on Mapan seeds and other farming techniques, expanding their networks, and finding new business opportunities.

“There is no feeling like participating in a (women farmer’s) event and seeing what you can do,” says Ibu Narto

Pak Joko has also observed the difference in household incomes in the area since the increase in high-yielding rice varieties, “families who used to have no fans now have two or have been able to buy a fridge.”

For Ibu Narto, the interest in the area is growing. “Oh, so many women are interested. “

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