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The female food heroes of Indonesia – part 5



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Gotong Royong: the secret to a fast harvest

By Juan Martorana – blogging from Indonesia

So how does one female farmer harvest around 1,250sqm of rice in just two hours? “Gotong Royong”.

On the day of Ibu Par’s harvest — a Female Food Hero from Wareng Village south of Yogyakarta — both men and women worked side by side. The landscape was full of the traditional round peaked bamboo hats, but there was also the odd faded baseball cap and a lone canvas trilby. There was a pair of tracksuit pants, but many batik shirts and skirts. Bare feet were de rigour. The grasshoppers were cleared and backs were bent as rice was cut at its base, bundled, tied with bamboo strips and hoisted to a neighbour’s head to make the muddy journey out to the road and the waiting truck.

Women make up a large proportion of the workers, and when we return to Ibu Par’s house that night, we see women still hard at work under the verandah of the house opposite, separating the rice from the stalks well into the night.

Harvest time is an extremely busy one for farmers everywhere. But in a country like Indonesia where much of the work is done manually using simple scythes and other hand tools, the philosophy of Gotong Royong helps get things done. It involves farmers pooling their labour, moving alternatively through each other’s farms, both receiving the labour of others, but also giving their own to ensure a successful harvest of everyone’s crops. Women play a huge role in the farming sector of Wareng Village – but not everyone is “invited”.

The perempuan-perempuan of Wareng, or the women of Wareng village, do not all have the same opportunities. Hear the story of one “less prosperous” woman farmer next post.

Read part 1 | part 2 | part 3 | part 4 | >> part 6