Mojokerto Farmers: We Earn Next to Nothing

Farmers in Mojokerto have been facing problems, from the capital constraints, the plummeting price of their harvest, to the lack of assistance. Due to these problems, many young people are reluctant to be farmers.

a sweet potato farmer in Mojokerto
Kusno, a farmer in Selotapak Village, Trawas District, Mojokerto Regency. (ACTNews / Gina Mardani)

ACTNews, MOJOKERTO – Kusno (48) is a seasoned sweet-potato farmer from Selotapak Village, Trawas District, Mojokerto Regency. In early February, when ACTNews visited him, he just parked his old motorcycle and immediately worked to trim the sweet potato leaves. He was taking care of the sweet potato plantation belonging to the local village head.

Kusno told ACTNews in early February that many farmers had been struggling. They often suffer severe losses if they harvest less than they expect. In addition, they also often get into debt. They have no choice but to take debts from moneylenders because they have no idea how to apply for a micro-business loan.

Due to the uncertain income that the farmers receive and other difficulties that they have to deal with, Kusno admitted that many young people had been reluctant to be farmers. As a father with two children who are still studying in a secondary and high school, Kusno was hoping to be able to send them to university. “I don’t want them to farm as I do. Our spirits have been truly crushed. Compared to the usual price of IDR 2,500 for a kilogram of sweet potatoes, now we earn only IDR 400 for each kilogram,” bemoaned Kusno.

Besides Kusno, there was also Sutrisno (45), a farmer who always works from 7:30 a.m. in the morning. According to Sutrisno, the coronavirus pandemic has caused the price of sweet potatoes to fall. Before the pandemic, the farmers earned up to IDR 16,000,000. Recently, they earned less than a third of it, excluding the cost of planting and cultivating the sweet potatoes. "Nowadays, we earn next to nothing from working as farmers," he said. He hoped that the future of farmers will be better, the price of fertilizer will be cheaper, and the selling price will go up. []