Women Run Worm Cultivation in West Java

Kampung Areng is located in a cold fresh air Lembang sub-district in West Bandung, West Java. It’s one of the Indonesia Domestic Biogas (BIRU) Programme areas that aims to promote the use of bio-digesters as a local, sustainable, energy source.  The biogas itself has provided a sustainable way for individual households with livestock to reduce dependence on firewood and expensive fossil fuels:  a biogas digester converts the dung into biogas that can be used for cooking and lighting. The slurry left over from this process is also known as organic fertiliser that can be used to improve crop yields.

In 2013, a number of women in the village started to add the value of the slurry by using it for worm cultivation or vermicomposting production. Eti Rohaeti (37) was one of the women who tried to manage worm cultivation. At that time, she used vermicompost as organic fertilizer only for fulfilling the needs of organic agriculture activities owned by her family. However, along with the visible result, her neighbour became interested to use the fertilizer. “Formerly, there were no people wanted to buy or even use vermicompost. I used it for my own farming. But after my neighbours saw that my plants grew better, people started to know the benefit of vermicompost,” Eti remembered.

Since then, Eti and some of her friends started to run the vermicomposting business.  However, this initiative was not well developed due to limited technical capacity and limited market access. When the GADING project was implemented in her village, Eti and her friends joined series of training activities that improved knowledge and capacity, not only for herself but also for other women in the area. Through Gender Inclusive for Community Development training, the GADING project trained the community on gender equality and work division within the households. GALS (Gender Action Learning System) methodology helped men and women creating and “drawing” their joint vision and plans for their household’s future. While other training provided knowledge and technical capacity for community to produce a better result, manage the business and reach the new market. These trainings were followed by technical assistance and provision of infrastructure to ensure that the beneficiaries could apply and benefit from the knowledge gained for their households and community.

Capacity building provided by the GADING project increased women skill and confidence in taking up activities and leadership role in the business. It also improved collaboration between men and women. After training, Eti and he friends decided to continue their dream to have a worm cultivation business. Lilis (42), one of the group members admitted that she gained benefit for herself and family after joining a number of the project’s training and other activities.  “After joining GADING Project, I was inspired to improve my role in the household. I only helped my husband on the farming and agriculture activities beforehand. Now, after developed the vision, my husband and I agreed to support each other both in household work and farming activities. He agreed to help and support us in the worm cultivation business”.  According to Lilis, with better skills, working division and support from the spouse of the women group members, the business could be more focus and productive. “Focus and management division are the recipes,” said her surely.

The presence of the GADING Project in Kampung Areng has raised the women’s confidence and motivation to be more productive and visible. Eti and her friends’ business runs better than before and has provided economic benefit for their families. The GADING team helped the women group to promote their fertilizer to potential market. Now, the buyers are more various, not only from individuals but also from corporations.

As the business developed, Eti and her friends also contributed in campaigning the sustainable agriculture practice by utilizing bio-slurry for vermicomposting. Many people from universities, civil societies, government and media came to their place to learn.

12 March 2018