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Young People See Healthy Poultry Production as a Hope for Rural Livelihoods

Students learn how healthy poultry can support livelihoods

 “Which is better - veterinary medicines produced in a modern plant or medicines home-made by farmers themselves,” asks Rika curiously during the poultry health seminar. She is a student from the Ciamis Animal Husbandry Vocational High School, West Java who visited PT Medion Farma Jaya through an FAO ECTAD study tour. This major veterinary pharmaceutical company is just an hour’s drive from Bandung, the capital city of West Java but Rika and her friends need to drive for three hours longer to get there from their school in rural Ciamis.

That day, sixty students and five teachers from two different schools SMK Peternakan Ciamis (Ciamis Animal Husbandry Vocational High School) and SMK Perunggasan Panjalu (Panjalu Poultry Vocational High School) visited PT Medion to learn more about medicines, poultry farm biosecurity and healthy poultry production. Previously, FAO had visited their schools to conduct a special class on best poultry production practices for healthy communities. During the Medion visit, students were given the chance to learn from people who manufacture the medicines they often use in their farms. They also had a closer look at parts of the manufacturing process, which are usually only found in their text books.

“I am determined to be a veterinarian one day, so I can help my community by keeping their livestock healthy. Healthy livestock means we can ensure a steady income to support our families,” says Rika. During discussion with FAO many students admitted that people of their age do not think being farmers is a “cool occupation”. It is often viewed as an outdated way of making a living.

However, Rika’s friend Ardi thinks the opposite, as too many people have left their villages after finishing high school for low-paid jobs in cities like Bandung and Jakarta. “Taking a vocational school course on animal husbandry helps me to make money at home, in my own village. With fewer young people opting for this, it provides a greater opportunity for me. In fact, farmers can actually earn more if we know how to do it right” he says. West Java is the most populous province in Indonesia with approximately 46 million people and 44% of them live in urban areas . This province also has the highest unemployment rate .

Ardi’s view was supported by Wawan Kurniawan, the Vocational High School headmaster who explained how he started the school whose students are all orphans or from poor families. “We aim to help them become financially independent by exploring local resources, which is mainly farming. We provide education for free, funded by donors and supported by the farms that we manage. Students get the chance to practice in the field, while helping to sustain the school,” says Wawan. Recently, the school also received some help in the form of “ayam kampung super” through a chicken distribution program of the Directorate General of Livestock and Animal Health Services, Ministry of Agriculture.

PT Medion Farma Jaya who hosted the visit expressed how glad they are  to share their knowledge with the young generation of future farmers. Suwadi, one of the speakers told the participants that poultry farms can be the source of community wealth, only if we can keep the chickens healthy by implementing proper biosecurity and farm management practices. While observing students eagerly questioning the factory officers, Iwan Setiawan, headmaster of Panjalu Poultry Vocational High School explained how his school is delighted to welcome assistance from external parties, such as FAO ECTAD and Netherlands universities to improve their teaching methods.

Photo caption: Students learn how healthy poultry can support livelihoods