FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Indonesia

CASE 11 Digital innovations to improve fisher folks livelihoods: the case of digital fishery village in Indramayu, West Java, Indonesia

Indramayu is a city of 100 000 people situated below sea level and protected only by some dunes and barrages. The local population, about 5 000 workers, subsist on fishing. Indramayu is well- known In West Java for fish production. Indramayu Regency is home to a large aquaculture area, with more than 560 hectares of land used for freshwater aquaculture of which 59 percent are reserved for catfish farming.

Indonesia has 3.5 million fishers and 1.5 million fish and shrimp farming enterprises. Fish feed represents around 70 percent of fish farming overheads and unmeasured feeding is a burden for the aquaculture sector. Underfeeding means underweight or dead fish, while overfeeding negatively affects fishes’ health and farmers’ profit margins.

An aquaculture intelligence company, eFishery is known for its innovative aquaculture techniques. It has developed a vast network across Indonesia, with all products developed locally. This start-up company developed a digital platform to improve feed control in their fish ponds using new feeder technology. The digital-enabled direct feeding offered significant benefits to farmers including shortening the farming cycle from 4 months to 3, allowing farmers to market more products and increase their income. The adoption of digital technology in aquaculture makes the FCR (feed conversion ratio) more efficient. These digital innovations have had significant beneficial impacts by increasing the sale value of cultivated commodities, improving market certainty and increasing turnover of business investments.

A public-private partnership between the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Affairs, the West Java Provincial Government and eFishery was launched at the end of 2018 to establish a digital fishery village in Losarang village, Indramayu, West Java. This initiative has a strong triple helix collaboration to ensure its sustainability, supported by feed supplier PT Suri Tani Pemuka, Provincial Bank BJB and Telkom University to collaborate in developing the aquaculture sector along with the Director General  of Aquaculture of the Ministry and sub-national Marine Affairs and Fisheries offices of West Java Province.

The digital fishery village applies NB-IoT (narrowband internet of things) technology from Telkomsel, a state owned telecommunication company, to the automatic fish feeder from eFishery, which uses fish feed from PT Suri Tani Pemuka (STP) in fish ponds to increase feed efficiency and speed up the fish harvest cycle.

This digital fishery village is the first aquaculture village in West Java to use integrated eFishery automatic feeding technology, production facilities, and technical assistance to fish farming and market access for catfish farmers. The technology is an affordable data-driven feeder that uses sensors to assess fish appetites and appropriate feed amounts. The feeder automatically sends real time data on fish feed to the farmer’s smartphone. The programme is an example of an inclusive digital economy ecosystem.

The digital fishery village programme also supports fishers through several services in collaboration with various parties, including supplying farmers with quality fish feed at lower prices and helping them develop their business plan and access funding to grow their business. The programme connects farmers to financial institutions to access finance and sidestep the classic problems of aquaculture business uncertainty. The key component of the eFishery fund is Kabayan, a famous local character whose name means Pay Later. Farmers apply for loans via the digital platform and the eFishery team determines if they are eligible for funding from the bank. Upon confirmation, the bank then disburses the credit so farmers can purchase eFishery products, such as an autofeeder machine. To date, the eFishery Fund has supported hundreds of farmers and deployed an online platform called eFisheryFresh. This connects fish farmers in villages across Indonesia with their customers, both end consumers and traders, to ensure farmers and customers receive the best quality products at the best prices

Lastly, the programme has established a community centre where fish farmers can learn about the digital platform and how to improve their business. Activities include financial literacy workshops, smart aquaculture discussions and online webinars.

“The digital fishery village programme helps farmers to access wider markets. It collects the harvest straight from farmers and sells their fish at a fair price using a digital marketplace. In 2018, the volume of catfish production from this area grew by 79 percent over the previous year and the value also increased by 75 percent.”

The economic benefits to fishers from using the eFisheryFeeder are substantial. Feeding is more accurately measured and more efficient with proper FCR. The digital feeder enables fish to grow and makes it easier to monitor their growth so that more than 200 fishers in Losarang village can monitor and record the quantity and quality of each harvest. Apart from the support of advanced digital technology, fish cultivators can enjoy various other benefits such as access to a learning centre that provides a variety of materials to help increase their knowledge, production assistance from experienced fishery experts, access to capital and smoother marketing of their produce that is sold at a fair price.

The digital fishery village programme also helps farmers’ access wider markets. It collects the harvest straight from farmers and sells their fish at a fair price using a digital marketplace. In 2018, the volume of catfish production from this area reached around 85 000 tonnes, 79 percent higher than the previous year. The production value also increased from IDR 996 billion to IDR 1.3 trillion (USD 92 million), an increase of 75 percent in the same period.

The Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Affairs, with support from the West Java Provincial Government, is now planning to implement these digital innovations in another ten villages. As a result, fishers are better able to manage their ponds efficiently and the access to finance has helped farmers expand their business. However, not all ponds can use the eFishery autofeeder since it is only suitable for fish that are 1.5 months old.      

According to an experienced catfish farmer, Mr Karma, the key limitation using the traditional feeding method with its inefficient use of inputs has been totally resolved by using the eFisheryFeeder which substantially improved feed management. Another fisher, Mr Wawan, added that “efficient and accurate technology and scheduled feeding management allow me to multitask”.

CASE 12 -- Connecting fishers to markets through digital platforms in Indonesia: Aruna’s success in Konawe and other coastal villages

Aruna is an integrated e-commerce start-up founded in 2016 with the aim of leveraging technology to create fair trade in seafood products while improving the livelihoods of fishers. Aruna’s information technology (IT) platform connects fishers and their end buyers. It also supplies real time national and international market data, including prices so that fishers know how much their catch is worth.

The Ministry of Villages, Disadvantaged Areas and Transmigration (MVDAT) has been supporting the government programme on Sea Toll to market fresh fish online from remote districts of Sorong and Berau in collaboration with several partners such as Pos Indonesia (Indonesia’s Post State Owned Company) as its logistics partner. Apart from helping to market fresh fish in underdeveloped areas, it has also conducted a pilot project to cultivate crab and shrimp in the Konawe Regency of south-east Sulawesi.

In 2018, MVDAT initiated a collaboration with Aruna in this area, formed in mostly coastal villages, where the residents are traditional people with lower socio-economic status and low literacy. According to the data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS), the average income of fishers in this area is only IDR 1.1 million/month (USD 79). Most fishers in these remote, disadvantaged areas are smallholders.

The collaboration between the MVDAT and Aruna hastened the digital transformation in these fishery dominated coastal areas. Aruna has developed a vertically integrated fishing system that rapidly connects small-scale fishers to secured markets. Through this collaboration, the village receives production infrastructure (miniplant), fishing gear as well as a series of training sessions for better production and quality control.

Both parties guarantee a better trading system using an e-commerce platform that allows fishers to reach out to wider national and international markets. By using mobile apps, fishers connect in real time to the miniplant where they receive a standard price, by weight, for their catch. The plant provides product quality assurance and supports proper packaging and freezing technology for the market. The plant initially used the Aruna e-Commerce platform to sell fish to larger markets. But with the support of MVDAT, this platform has been recently upgraded to jointly establish Pasar Laut – the Sea/Marine Market.

In Konawe Regency, 55 fisher groups have benefited from this collaborative work between Aruna and MVDAT. Collectively, they can now earn up to IDR 600 million (USD 43 091) per day with this approach. These digital solutions, created originally by Aruna, have now spread across 16 provinces from Sumatra to Papua, with more than 15 000 fishers involved. Aruna operates approximately 33 miniplants for distribution and initial processing of fishery products. In each of these miniplants, Aruna created jobs by hiring and empowering 10 to 20 village workers from fishing families.

To encourage fishers to join the platform, Aruna relies on local heroes, young people in the villages who understand how the app works on their phone. They use it to record fish catches and facilitate the transaction. The company regularly organizes Sarasehan Aruna – (Aruna Social Gatherings) for strengthening their relationship with fishing families considered as their local partners. This contributes to building mutual trust and developing capacities. 

This fair and profitable market system affects not only the communities’ economic activity but also contributes positively to making the fisheries sector sustainable. Fishers achieve higher incomes and average prices for consumers are 15 percent lower than before.  In Konawe itself, approximately 5 000 fishers and their families have increased their income by up to 133 percent. The e-commerce in the coastal villages has gradually improved the community’s livelihood.

Some challenges remain, especially on how to encourage use of this application by small-scale fishers with a low education level. It is also challenging to build mutual trust and to change their mind set to adapt to business principles. 

“By using mobile apps, fishers connect in real time to the miniplant where they receive a standard price, by weight, for their catch. The plant provides product quality assurance and supports proper packaging and freezing technology for the market.”

User's Testimony

Daniel Sarowa is an experienced fisher from one of the remote coastal villages of Konawe Regency, south-east Sulawesi. He and other fishers in the area have been confronted with limited market access for their fish as the local market is only able to take less than 50 percent of their catch.

Before the programme started Sarowa had irregular catches and his income was uncertain. On average he earned only USD 79 per month. Now, by exporting his fish to China, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan his average income has risen to USD 285. From the environmental point of view, he and his community have adopted sustainable fishing and coastal management principles to maintain high value fishery products.

CASE 13 -- Connecting farmers to market through e-commerce: the case of the Dapur Kita (Our Kitchen) programme in Detusoko village

Detusoko Barat is one of the villages in Ende Regency of East Nusa Tenggara Province, located at the foot of Mount Kelimutu and its famous lake. Detusoko is home to various types of agricultural and plantation crops, with a hilly topography, terraced rice fields and green valleys. Farming households comprise nearly 95 percent of the population. The main commodities grown are rice, vegetables and plantation crops such as robusta coffee as well as cassava, clove beans, vanilla, cocoa and candlenuts.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the agricultural sectors in Detusoko. Social restrictions imposed to control the pandemic have led to very limited market access for perishable products and caused big losses leading to a sharp decline in farmers’ income.

When the first social restrictions were applied in Ende, farmers were heading into harvest season and faced increasing difficulties selling their products since all markets were closed. Ferdinandus Watu, Detusoko Village Head, initiated online sales of farmers’ products via Facebook and collaborated with a COVID-19 volunteer team from the Catholic Archdiocese of Ende, Indonesia to create an online market place for farmers’ products.

The Ministry of Village, Disadvantaged Areas and Transmigration has supported the community of Detusoko with funding through Au Wula Village-Owned Enterprise (BUMDes), to develop the Dapur Kita programme.

Dapur Kita is an online market place using an instant messaging platform, WhatsApp, to sell local produce. This platform helped farmers access their market and it benefited local markets with contactless payments during the pandemic. It also helped farmers remain productive and to sell their agricultural products through social media with home delivery to customers.

Responding positively to the initiative launched in Detusoko, the Ministry provided additional support in the form of an upgraded template through Dapurkita.bumdesmart.id, a local online market place. Every customer is connected via the WhatsApp number to Dapur Kita staff. For the time being, this online market is open twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Approximately 60 farmers from eight villages have benefitted from Dapur Kita. It has also helped 11 motor taxi drivers and four truck drivers to maintain an income through marketing perishable products, mostly vegetables.

Farmers’ products are mainly sold to households in Ende and Maumere. Dapur Kita has established an agreement with a local bank, Bank NTT, for cashless payments through an e-wallet system. Following the success of Dapur Kita in Detusoko, five more villages are in the process of joining the programme.

“Dapur Kita is an online market place using
an instant messaging platform, WhatsApp,
to sell local produce. This platform helped farmers access their market and it benefited local markets with contactless payments during
the pandemic. It also helped farmers remain productive and to sell their agricultural products through social media with home delivery
to customers.”