Agricultural transformation starts in the backyard

Family farming has deep roots in rural Indonesian life, but Nissa’s struggles to maintain those traditions demonstrate the threats family farmers regularly face.

Through its Family Farming Initiative, FAO supports living examples, like Nissa’s, of the values and lifestyles that concretely help the world attain a more sustainable future. ©FAO

Nissa Wargadipuras’s earliest memories involve learning how to live with nature. Her childhood home’s backyard in the hilly town of Garut, West Java was a little forest where her father planted vegetables, herbs and fruits. Her mother produced traditional medicine from the plants for their family and their neighbours.

“Whenever I came home from school, my mother always asked me to do some “hunting,” Nissa says. The tradition of the “backyard hunt” has long been part of ethnic Sundanese life in West Java, Indonesia. “I ‘hunted’ guava, coconut, turmeric, cayenne pepper, everything. I could find all that I needed in my parent’s backyard.”

Sundanese people in Nissa’s village consider their homes not only a place to rest and take shelter, but also a means to provide them food and make a living.

Nissa’s idyllic memories of her Garut childhood speak to the deep roots of family farming in rural Indonesian life. But her struggles to maintain those traditions against political adversity and poverty are illustrative of the threats family farmers have faced across Indonesia.

Searching for solutions

Nissa was a high school student in 1989 when she first realized that her family’s livelihood—and that of other farmers in Garut—was threatened. She joined a student movement to protect the rights of local farmers and resist the government’s policy of land acquisition.

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