Siswartono’s Hard Work to Get Out of Debts

Siswartono (40) has been working as a farmer for decades. He often has no choice but to borrow money to middlemen to cultivate his land. The interest rate is quite high, making it a heavy burden for him.

Siswartono, often nicknamed Mang Sis. (ACTNews)

ACTNews, PESAWARAN - Siswanto (40), has been working as a farmer for two decades. In the past five years, Siswartono, who lives in Bagelen Village of Pesawaran Regency, no longer works for others. He rents a patch of land that he cultivates himself. In a year, he was able to harvest his farm three times. During dry season, he plants secondary crops in his farm.

Although he no longer works for someone else, his wealth has not significantly improved. He still has to borrow money to buy fertilizer and agricultural chemicals as well as to cover the plowing cost. He repays the loan during harvest seasons. With 43% interest rate, Siswartono is often left with only a little to feed his family.

He has to support two school-aged children. Due to the pandemic, he has to spend extra costs for the children’s data plan. Thus, he has not been able to pay off his debt that now stands at IDR 2,000,000.

"The impact of this loan is quite burdensome for Mang Sis and his wife. They do not repay their debt with money, but rather they do it by selling their unhulled rice for IDR 350,000 per off the debt with money but use unhulled rice which is valued at Rp. 300 thousand per 100 kilograms. In the market, unhulled rice is valued at IDR. 450,000 per 100 kilograms," said Regina Locita Pratiwi of Aksi Cepat Tanggap (ACT) Lampung Program Department.

ACT Lampung met Mang Sis at his house. (ACTNews)

Struggling to make ends meet and to repay his debt, Mang Sis also works as a brick maker at his neighbor’s brickworks for which he is paid IDR 90,000 for each 1,000 bricks he makes. "It takes seven days for the bricks to completely dry, meaning that Mang Sis only earns IDR 360,000 per month from producing 4,000 bricks," Regina.

Sadly, Siswartono has been suffering from an injury that makes it difficult for him to walk fast and upright. In spite of his injury, he never sees it as a hindrance.

Mang Sis relentlessly prays to Allah to make his steps easier to support his wife and children. “I don’t ask for riches and excessive wealth. I just want to be free from debt and usury so that what I earn from farming will be more blessed for my wife and kids,” he said.

Seeing the condition of the farmers who are lacking of capital, Regina invites the community to work together to create solutions for these food producers. "ACT has provided this solution through the Waqf for Micro Business Capital program. Therefore, we hope for the support of the benefactors to provide the best waqf so that this program can benefit these farmers, especially in Lampung, so they can work more easily,” said Regina. []