Agriculture is an essential sector inseparable from Indonesia’s economic sustainability. According to Statistics Indonesia (2022), this sector contributes to the national economic growth with a share of 12.98 percent in the second quarter.
Unfortunately, amidst the agricultural sector’s high prospects, there is a farmer regeneration crisis. Based on the above data, Indonesia experienced a decrease of 179,201 agricultural laborers from 2020 to 2021.
“If this phenomenon continues, the decrease in effectiveness and dependency on imports could haunt Indonesian agriculture. Hence, we researched farmer regeneration,” stated Siwi Irwan Rustami, a UGM Faculty of Agriculture student.
Through the Student Creativity Program in Social Sciences and Humanities Research, Siwi Rustami, along with her four colleagues, Ira Dahlia (Public Policy and Management), Restina Febriani (Agricultural Technology), Salma Mawartya (Law), Titis Bella Ramadhani (English Literature), under the guidance of Diah Fitria Widhiningsih, studied farmer regeneration in Srigading Village, Bantul Regency.
Rustami explained that the choice of Srigading Village for research is because it’s known as one of the shallot farming centers. However, the land the community uses is sandy and is known for its cultivation challenges due to low water retention and nutrient levels.
Hence, the team made the shallot farmers on marginal land the primary subject of their study.
“We wanted to examine the pattern of farmer regeneration, namely in Srigading Village. The farming land is marginal and presents numerous challenges, yet yields an exceptionally abundant harvest. This caught our attention,” she elaborated.
In the data collection process, the team conducted in-depth interviews with 20 informants, including elderly farmers, young farmers involved in shallot cultivation on marginal land, non-farmers, and shallot intermediary traders.
These interviews aimed to identify motivations, supportive factors, and barriers to engagement in agriculture, providing insights into what needs to be done to encourage increased interest among young people in agriculture.
Alongside interviews, the team also organized focus group discussions (FGD) to validate and discuss the responses obtained from each interviewee.
The initial research discovered a process that could serve as an innovation to address the farmer regeneration issue: agricultural agglomeration. Agglomeration is a process of concentrating similar and related activities in one region.
According to a study by Richard (2018), agglomeration enables agriculture to function more efficiently through resource and capital savings, knowledge transfer, and transportation.
Ira Dahlia added that shallot farming in Srigading Village is already indicative of applying agglomeration. This is evident in the presence of farmer groups that collaborate to advance agricultural practices together.
“We hope to find an appropriate agglomeration strategy that can be implemented in other agricultural areas, thereby becoming a solution to the farmer regeneration problem,” she expressed.