On the island provinces of Maluku and Maluku Utara in Indonesia, small farmers have been equipped with skills to become entrepreneurs through the farmer business school (FBS) approach. The FBS is a participatory learning approach that strengthens a farmer’s involvement in agricultural value chains.
Ten farmer groups from Maluku and Maluku Utara participated in an eight-month FBS, an approach adopted by the IFAD-supported investment project Smallholder Livelihood Development Project (SOLID) under the Indonesian Food Security Agency. The International Potato Center (CIP) and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) also provided assistance to the FBS under the IFAD and EU-funded project: Food Resilience Through Root and Tuber Crops in Upland and Coastal Communities of the Asia-Pacific (FoodSTART+).
The FBS culminated in a business launch of newly established micro-enterprises in the last quarter of 2018. The new businesses developed by the FBS groups featured various products from cassava, sweetpotato, and other crops, such as cassava chips, cassava biscuits, sweetpotato flour, sweetpotato cakes, and cassava flour with banana rhizome egg rolls, among others.
Several participants noted the potential to make more money with their FBS training. “Abundant cassava in the community can help increase our income,” said Mrs. Sitti from Inlomin village in Amarseku. The cassava grown in their community for staple can now be made into higher-value products which they can sell for additional income. And from her experience selling cassava products, she may translate those skills into selling other crops.
Beyond the promise of increased income from FBS, the graduates also realized the value of root crops for nutrition. “Root crops are nutritious and important to me and my family,” said Mrs. Farida Fonty of Solang, who learned about the nutritional properties of sweetpotato.
Perhaps most encouraging was the effect of FBS inspiring continuing education among its participants. “Farmer business schools will help us increase our incomes. There will be challenges but we will continue because FBS is interesting,” said Mr. Abdul Rahman from Solang.
More stories like these from our FBS participants can be found in the brief, Stories from the FoodSTART+ and SOLID collaboration on farmer business school in Indonesia.