Ida sits on bags of recently harvested rice. At 23 years old, she is the youngest female farmer in Terara, a small village on the island of Lombok. As far as she knows, she’s the youngest farmer in all four neighboring villages as well.
Ida started working in the rice fields when she was 13 years old, in the seventh grade. She learned how to farm by watching her parents and her two older brothers, who’ve been farming since she was born. Ida’s dream was to become a pilot — to explore outside of her village. Instead, she’s followed in the footsteps of her family. She dropped out of school after the ninth grade, in 2012, as a result of mounting pressure from her parents – particularly her mother – who felt she should be helping them in the field instead of studying.
Ida’s mom holds a very conservative, traditional Indonesian view. She never went to school, and believes there’s no need for girls to pursue higher education. In part, because it’s difficult to find jobs with or without education, but mostly because she believes they’re needed most at home – to take care of the family and tend to the fields. When Ida’s asked if she enjoys farming, she says she does because she has to, because there’s no other choice.
As the treasurer of her farmer group, Ida is one of the most trusted members in her community, tasked with tracking and managing finances each month. It’s a position with great responsibility, which requires high attention to detail.
Mercy Corps is helping Ida and her group produce greater yields in the face of an increasingly challenging climate by providing training on effective farming practices. We have also provided training in administration and financial reporting, so Ida and other leaders of her group are better positioned to help their group stay strong. Mercy Corps has also connected Ida to Mandiri Cash, which has allowed her to both save time and money — about 2 million rupiah of her own savings ($143 USD).