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Experiences in Convincing Local Government to Support Participatory Plant Breeding

The case of PEDIGREA efforts in Indramayu, Indonesia

FIELD Indonesia


FIELD Indonesia


Experiences in Convincing Local Government to Support Participatory Plant Breeding

The case of PEDIGREA efforts in Indramayu, Indonesia


Engkus Kuswara, Masroni, and Arma R. Bertuso. Experiences in Convincing Local Government to Support Participatory Plant Breeding: The case of PEDIGREA efforts in Indramayu, Indonesia. 2009. FIELD Indonesia. 16 pp.

This publication was carried out with support from PEDIGREA (Participatory Enhancement of Diversity of Genetic Resources in Asia) and Biodiversity Fund, The Netherlands (Hivos and OXFAM-NOVIB)

FIELD (Farmers' Initiatives for Ecological Livelihoods and Democracy) Jalan Teluk Jakarta 1, Rawa Bambu Pasar Minggu, Jakarta 12520, Indonesia Tel./Fax (62-21) 7803470; 33101515 Email: fieldind@indosat.net.id www.pedigrea.org; www.field-indonesia.org; www.alivefp3.org; www.theFieldAlliance.org

Production in-charge: Nugroho Wienarto, Triyanto Purnama Adi, and Engkus Kuswara Editors: Ines Vivian Domingo and Arma R. Bertuso Cover and Layout Design: Triyanto Purnama Adi Photographs: Triyanto Purnama Adi, Engkus Kuswara, Lardian Isfandri, Rendra Kusuma Wijaya, Wiwik Sriyanti, Setyo Untoro

Copyright-free publication. Readers are encourage to quote, reproduce, disseminate and translate materials for their own use. Due acknowledgment, with full reference to the article's authors and source book is requested.

A catalogue record of this book is available from the Indonesian Library

ISBN 979-98088-6-2


We are deeply grateful for the farmer trainers, farmer breeders and farmer communities of the Farmer Field School on Participatory Plant Breeding in rice and vegetables and FFS on Goat Improvement. Without their determination and commitment these series of publications would not be a reality.

Acknowledgment is also due to the support extended by the Local Government of Indramayu, West Java. Highly recognizable too is the appreciation and support of the Indonesian IPM Farmer Associations, village level governments and communities of Indramayu to the implementation of PEDIGREA.

We are also grateful to FIELD's Advisory Board for their support and guidance in the implementation of the program.

Our heartfelt gratitude to Ms. Ines Vivian Domingo for her perseverance in editing these papers despite the short notice and making this readable to a broader audience.

We also express our appreciation to the support and encouragement given by PEDIGREA (Participatory Enhancement of Diversity of Genetic Resources in Asia) Coordinators, Ms. Elenita C. Dano and Ms. Arma R. Bertuso, also to the project partners, SRER Khmer in Cambodia, PPRDI in Philippines and Center of Genetic Resources of the Netherlands.

We gratefully acknowledge Biodiversity Fund of the Netherlands (HIVOS and OXFAM-NOVIB), Center of Genetic Resources of the Netherlands, and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations for without their support both financial and technical to FIELD these series of publications including Experiences in Convincing Local Government to Support Participatory Plant Breeding: The case of PEDIGREA efforts in Indramayu, Indonesia won't be made possible.

FIELD Management Staff 25 March 2009 Pasar Minggu, Jakarta


Experiences in Convincing Local Government to Support Participatory Plant Breeding

The case of PEDIGREA efforts in Indramayu, Indonesia

by Kuswara Engkus , Masroni , and Arma Bertuso




I. Background

The Participatory Enhancement of Diversity of Genetic Resources in Asia (PEDIGREA) is a regional programme established in 2002 and is being carried out in Indonesia, Cambodia and the Philippines. The programme supports farmers in developing and conserving the diversity of their genetic resources. PEDIGREA aims to develop novel sustainable farmer-led approaches in participatory crop and animal improvement. It was set up to work in close collaboration with research institutions, scientists, and researchers in a collegial atmosphere in order to provide complementary services and guarantee maximum results. PEDIGREA has adopted a farming systems approach, addressing diversity in a farming community by focusing not only on the staple crop rice but also on other crops like vegetables (such as pumpkin, bitter gourd, sponge gourd, wax gourd, eggplant, and string beans) and livestock (such as goats and pigs). In addition, PEDIGREA also integrates market research into the crop and animal improvement efforts.

PEDIGREA activities are carried out in farming communities with intensive rice production characterized by cultivation of large acreages of modern varieties and a low degree of diversity, yet with limited cultivation of some highly appreciated traditional varieties. Aside from rice, the programme's other focus is on local indigenous vegetables, often the main source of farmers' income and which also provides variety and enrichment to the community's diet. National breeding programmes for these marginal crops are considered very weak and have yielded less than satisfying results.

  • 1 Program manager, FIELD Indonesia

  • 2 Coordinator, IPPHTI

  • 3 Co-Coordinator, PEDIGREA Foundation

The PEDIGREA programme is carried out in partnership with three local NGOs that coordinate their respective country programmes: Farmers' Initiatives for Ecological Livelihoods and Democracy (FIELD) in Indonesia; Srer Khmer in Cambodia; and People, Plants Research and Development, Inc. (PPRDI) in the Philippines. The backstopping is provided by three other partners: the Centre for Genetic Resources, the Netherlands (CGN); the Agricultural Economics Research Institute of Wageningen University and Research Centre; and the Bioversity International, Asia and Pacific Office in Malaysia. The overall management lies with the PEDIGREA programme based in Manila, Philippines.

In Indonesia, the project is implemented in the district of Indramayu in West Java. Indramayu is a major agricultural production area where intensive rice and vegetable production is practiced. At present, the project works in fourteen (14) villages in the said district, being engaged in participatory plant breeding (PPB) for rice and vegetables such as pumpkin, bitter gourd, and sponge gourd as well as participatory animal improvement (PAI) for goats. The project also addresses the marketing of the farmers' products through the participatory market development (PMD) in vegetables.

To support the PEDIGREA project in Indramayu, the project works in close collaboration with the district level Ikatan Pengendalian Hama Terpadu Indonesia (IPPHTI), a national farmers' organization composed of graduates of the Integrated Pest Management farmer field school. Members of this organization are active trainers and participants in the farmer field schools (FFSs) as well as breeders of rice, vegetables and goats.

Aside from working with farmers in PPB, PAI and PMD in their own villages, the project also established linkages with other stakeholders, especially the academe and government offices to inform them about the PEDIGREA work and later on to influence them. Thus, this paper aims to share about the experiences of the PEDIGREA team in trying to convince government agencies in agriculture to support farmer's efforts in participatory plant breeding.

II. Process and approaches in mainstreaming PPB in local government

In 2003, the PEDIGREA project started its work in the district of Indramayu, West Java. Immediately after, the PEDIGREA team was set up to facilitate the farmers field school (FFS) work in the villages. The team is composed of farmer leaders from IPPHTI, farmer trainers, and FIELD staff. The project also tried to collaborate with the district agricultural services office and thus in 2004, a meeting with Bupati (district head or administrator) was arranged; the meeting aimed to get the Bupati's policy and program support on behalf of the district level government.

However, the said objective was not attained since the head of the district agricultural office thought that the PEDIGREA work on PPB is not consistent with the agricultural policy of the government. Although several agricultural officers participated in the training of trainors (ToT) for PPB at the start of the project, their involvement discontinued when they did not proceed in participating as trainors in the FFSs. Despite the initial negative response, the project continued to get in touch with the local government officials by inviting and involving them in project activities such as the farmers' forum.

In 2006, another FIELD project on local food system was implemented in Indramayu in close coordination with PEDIGREA. Funded by a UK-based institute, this is an action research project to improve local policy and practices related to local food and promote agricultural biodiversity at the village level. PEDIGREA supported this project in particular by providing seeds that were bred or produced by farmers needed in local food systems. During the farmers' field day at the end of each FFS on PPB, district agricultural and health officers are invited to attend, and a dialogue

among them, the farmers and FIELD staff is held on PEDIGREA and the local food system. In addition, a seminar on local food system and PPB was conducted in the same year in collaboration with the University of Wilalodra, a local university in Indramayu. Members of IPPHTI (IPM farmers' association) and government officers from the local health and agriculture offices also participated in the seminar.

At about the same time in 2006, there was an ongoing transition with the leadership in the Department of Agriculture at the district level; the head was to be transferred to another district. As soon as his replacement took office, the PEDIGREA team paid him a visit for a dialogue. The new officer was supportive of the PEDIGREA work in Indramayu, but gave no commitment. Nevertheless, as one of the team members commented, “It was a sign of green light (encouragement)”.

Based on their constant exposure with the government office, the PEDIGREA team felt that a lot of people especially in the government still do not know about the PEDIGREA project on PPB so they decided to make a documentation of their work. The team, together with the IPPHTI contacted the Department of Anthropology of the University of Indonesia, to ask for help in producing a video documentation of

the success and lessons of the FFS with some emphasis on PPB. The video project lasted for one year.

After the video was finished, the PEDIGREA team conducted an awareness raising campaign on FFS and PPB from March to July 2007 in twelve (12) villages in Indramayu. In each village, around 50 to 80 people attended the video showing, which was followed by a discussion. Aside from farmers, other invited participants were the local village and sub-district leaders, and agriculture and health services officers from the sub-district level. The discussions yielded positive results in each village. A memorandum of agreement (MOA) was signed with the leaders at the sub- district expressing their commitment for support to the farmers' program, particularly the PPB. A total of 11 MOAs were produced from this awareness raising campaign (Table 1). Figure 1 shows a sample of the MOA between the farmers and village-level government officials.

Table 1: List of communities in Indramayu with MOA


Community Name


  • 1 Cangkingan

East Indramayu

  • 2 Segeran

East Indramayu

  • 3 Sliyeg

East Indramayu

  • 4 Jengkok

East Indramayu

  • 5 Kalensari

Central Indramayu

  • 6 Bangodua

Central Indramayu

  • 7 Nunuk

West Indramayu

  • 8 Sukamelang

West Indramayu

  • 9 Gabus Wetan

West Indramayu

  • 10 Bongas

West Indramayu

  • 11 Sukra and Patroll

West Indramayu

Following the success of the campaign, the team decided to follow through with the initiative, and prepared for a district-level seminar. However, they experienced a minor setback when the head of the district Agriculture Service Office did not allow the district seminar for the PEDIGREA team. He said that his office is willing to extend support to the activities in the IPPHTI proposal but the seminar is not needed. However, the team was determined to continue with the seminar. The

members exerted a lot of effort to convince the agriculture officer until they were finally given the approval to go ahead with it.

Thus in August 2007, the district level seminar was conducted. Invited to the seminar were the Bupati and other elected district officials (DPRD ), district officers of the agriculture and health services, a professor from the University of Gadjahmada in Yogyakarta, lecturers from the Agriculture University of Indonesia in Bogor, staff of the NGO Institute of Global Justice, farmers from the village of Kediri who had problems with an agricultural company on hybrid corn, including students and farmers from different organizations such as the IPM programme. Around 300 people participated in the seminar. As an output, a letter signing was also done; the letter signified the district government's support to the farmer breeding program.


After the district level seminar, the PEDIGREA team had a couple of meetings with the district agriculture head to discuss the follow-up activities. They met twice, in November 2007 and December 2007 to firm up commitment for support from the services, and to discuss the budget. At the same time, the PEDIGREA team regularly reported to the agriculture services about updates and progress of the project. Project reports were likewise provided as a basis for discussions when needed.

In December 2007, the group of IPPHTI leaders took advantage of the anniversary of the Indramayu district to set up a week-long exhibit to showcase the work of farmers in PPB and IPM, and to provide a forum for discussing farmers' concerns. PEDIGREA presented posters and exhibits on PPB and of rice and vegetable seeds produced by the farmer breeders. There were also video showing, distribution of seeds (rice, sponge gourd, bitter gourd, and pumpkin), and information dissemination on the activities and results of PPB, the role of farmer breeders in producing the seeds, including the promotion of the use of farmer-bred seeds.

Through the farmers' and IPPHTI leaders' participation in several activities such as regular meetings, seminars, awareness-raising, dialogues, and annual exhibitions, the district level agriculture office finally acknowledged the importance of the work in PPB. Recognition of the PPB work was concretely manifested by assisting the PEDIGREA with a grant of 200 million rupiah (20,000US$) through the IPPHTI. The contract was signed by the IPPHTI as the project holder and the Department of Agricultural Services that will be in charge of project monitoring. The fund, which was released in April 2008, was allotted for one year of FFS-PPB trainings for six communities and the establishment of a community seed bank. The funds were earmarked as follows: US$5000 for the community seed bank, and US$15000 for the FFS, ToT, and management costs to follow up the FFS.

  • 4 DPRD means Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Daerah or or District level Parliament

Beyond its monetary value, the funds signified to the farmers that their hard work in convincing the government finally got results in terms of policy and budget support, and that PPB is really considered important in helping farmers with their livelihood.

III. Results of the lobbying work of farmers for PPB

The experiences of the farmers in mainstreaming their work to government agencies have generated several results.

  • a. Linkages with the local district agriculture office. The MOA formalized the link of the farmers to the government office and the latter's support to the farmers' initiatives. As a result of the farmers' lobbying work, 11 MOAs involving 12 villages were signed between the farmers and the district officers from the Department of Agriculture.

  • b. Access to funds for farmers' activities in FFS-PPB. The Department of Agriculture in Indramayu gave a grant of US$20,000 to support the PPB work in 6 communities in the district. Specifically, the funds were intended to be used to conduct ToT, FFS and set up community seeds banks.

  • c. Provision of materials (in kind) to support farmers' work in PPB. Aside from the cash, the farmers' organization acquired three refrigerators from the Perlindungan Varietas Tanaman (Plant Variety Protection Office) to be used for medium-term storage of their seeds/varieties. They also got a sealer that can be used in processing the seeds for storage. This was a result of the discussions on farmers' needs in their PPB work when the PVT staff visited the PEDIGREA project in Indramayu in June 2007. The refrigerators were given six months after the visit. At present, the refrigerators are strategically located in three communities to support the farmers' conservation of seeds as shown in the table below:

Table 2: Location of the seed storage for farmers



Name of farmer-keeper


East Indramayu


Gabus Wetan

West Indramayu



Central Indramayu


Farmers can deposit seeds of around 100grams with the seed keepers for safekeeping. However, poor electric supply in Segeran in the evenings is a problem on the viability of such a storage system.

IV. Challenges ahead

The farmers' perseverance in dialoguing with and lobbying the district agricultural officers for support in their PPB work paved the way for concrete results such as signing of MOAs, access to funds, and acquisition of needed materials. However, getting such results was not easy. Some of the important lessons the farmers learned in this regard were:

  • a. Keeping an open and regular communication with key stakeholders and supporters. The farmers were persistent in their efforts to be recognized and to convince the local government to give its support. As they had experienced, they had to visit the concerned government offices every month to keep the communication lines open and always invited the officials to the various farmers' activities to facilitate interaction between the farmers and the government officials. Furthermore, even if some of the government officials might hold a different perspective, it is nevertheless important to keep communicating with them since they are in a position to provide or withhold support to the

project. The experience of the farmers' group in linking with government officials varied according to the receptivity of the latter. For example, the first district-level agricultural services officer was not supportive. However, the officer who replaced him was more open to the idea; this made it possible for the farmers' group to access the resources they needed to implement and even expand their activities.

  • b. Maximizing venues for learning and exchange to advance farmers' interests. As the farmers have learned, different activities such as seminars, farmers' field days, dialogues, and others can be used as platforms to influence the government officers of the agricultural services and health services as well as elected community and district officials. Moreover, the farmers greatly improved their advocacy and lobbying skills through their active participation in various workshops (regional- and national- level) where government officials were also present.

  • c. The limited capability of the Department of Agricultural services in PPB worked to the advantage of the PEDIGREA team and the farmers. Because of this, some funds and materials were acquired for the FFS-PPB in the communities.

The farmers also faced the following constraints in their lobbying work:

  • a. In relation to the funds, there is a need to clarify fully the roles and tasking and between the farmers and the Department of Agriculture to avoid problems in management of the project later. As agreed upon, IPHHTI was responsible for project management while the agricultural services department will undertake monitoring and assessment.

  • b. The attitude (toward the project) of the person-in-charge in the agricultural services is important. If he is progressive, pro-farmer, and open to the idea about what the farmers are trying to achieve, then he can facilitate the farmers' access to the Bupati or the local government. However, it could also be a limiting factor if he is not supportive.

To end, here is statement of a farmer-member of the PEDIGREA team and the head

of the district-level IPPHTI, “In our lobbying work with the government, it is important to initiate communication and to keep the lines open, not to give up in our efforts to convince the government officials, and our persistence can pave the way for our eventual success.”


FIELD FIELD Indonesia Foundation (Farmer Initiatives for Ecological Livelihoods and Democracy) is an organization that supports

FIELD Indonesia Foundation (Farmer Initiatives for Ecological Livelihoods and Democracy) is an organization that supports people in marginal communities through education for empowerment. FIELD Indonesia was established on 1 June 2001. FIELD key staffs are former members of the FAO Regional Program on Community IPM in Asia (www.CommunityIPM.org) in 1998-2002 and were part of the team that provided technical assistance over 12 years to the National IPM (Integrated Pest Management) Program, local farmer organizations and the Indonesian IPM Farmers Associations. FIELD activities make use of a variety learning approaches including the Farmer Field Schools & Studies, Community Action Research, Sustainable Livelihoods Framework, and Farmer Advocacy.

FIELD's vision is that marginal communities in Indonesia re-claim and re- manage their public domains and improve their livelihoods. And its missions are to facilitate marginal communities to be able to:


Analyze and understand the conditions of the ecosystems that form the basis of their livelihoods in technical, social and political aspects.


Organize themselves to conduct actions to enhance their livelihoods in a manner that is both ecologically sound (just and in harmony with the nature) and democratic (just and in harmony with other people).

Specifically, FIELD as a partner of PEDIGREA is doing the conservation and utilization of genetic resources by farmers on rice, local vegetables (sponge gourd, bitter gourd and pumpkin) and animal (goat), participatory market development, and policy advocacy within the framework of Farmers' Rights and Ecological Agriculture in Indramayu District, West Java Province.

Currently, FIELD is also working in other programs, such as Sustaining Local Food Systems and Agro-biodiversity, Community Action Research for Advocacy Education and Local Policy Reform, Environment Services Program Field Schools, Community Biodiversity and Livelihoods Field Schools, Home garden Vegetable and Nutrition Field Schools as a part of Household Food Security Program, Ecological Agriculture and Organic Farming, Ecological IPM in vegetables, and System of Rice Intensification (SRI).


PEDIGREA The Participatory Enhancement of Diversity of Genetic Resources in Asia (PEDIGREA) is a project that

The Participatory Enhancement of Diversity of Genetic Resources in Asia (PEDIGREA) is a project that aims to strengthen the capability of farming communities to manage their genetic resources as part of local agro-biodiversity. The project focuses on:


participatory plant breeding aimed at the broadening of the genetic base of rice in intensive production systems,


participatory crop improvement of local and traditional vegetables (i.e. pumpkin, sponge gourd, wax gourd, bitter gourd, eggplant, string beans),


participatory animal improvement aimed at enhancing the genetic base of farm animals (i.e. pig and goat), and


participatory market development aimed at creating and improving market opportunities for local and regional farm products.

The purpose of PEDIGREA is to contribute to food sovereignty and to strengthen farmers' genetic diversity and knowledge systems in the rice based farming systems of Southeast Asia. It works on participatory methodologies developed in the Farmer Field School (FFS) approach with the partner farming communities. At the same time, the project build on the comparative advantages of all key actors in the management of genetic resources including those from the public sector.

PEDIGREA project is implemented in three countries, namely: Cambodia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

PEDIGREA project partners are SRER KHMER in Cambodia, FIELD in Indonesia and PPRDI in the Philippines, and the CGN, the Netherlands. The project is coordinated by the PEDIGREA Foundation.

Experiences in Convincing Local Government to Support Participatory Plant Breeding The case of PEDIGREA efforts in

Experiences in Convincing Local Government to Support Participatory Plant Breeding

The case of PEDIGREA efforts in Indramayu, Indonesia

Experiences in Convincing Local Government to Support Participatory Plant Breeding The case of PEDIGREA efforts in
Experiences in Convincing Local Government to Support Participatory Plant Breeding The case of PEDIGREA efforts in

ISBN 979-98088-6-2