A few years ago, Pak Amir Syaripuddin was in between odd jobs, trying to find a stable source of income to live from day to day.
Today, his circumstances enable him to make plans for the future. He owns a palm Plantation , a fully furnished two-storey house, and a car to drive his three children to school. One of his daughters is pursuing her medical degree, paid by Pak Amir.
What brought about this change?
In 2000, Musim Mas started a primary cooperative credit scheme as a Corporate Social Responsibility project. Kredit Koperasi Primer Anggota (KKPA) was first introduced in Sorek, Riau, Indonesia, to empower local communities to achieve the necessary technology and skills in Palm Oil cultivation. Practical support is provided to members including bank loan guarantees, agricultural training, transfer of quality seeds and fertilisers.
The project was initiated voluntarily prior to the 2007 Indonesian law which mandates the establishment of smallholder schemes by private Palm Oil companies.
Pak Amir recalls Musim Mas as one of the first companies which were willing to work with the local community. He joined the scheme and has not looked back since. Through socialisation and support provided by the management, the members grew confident and did well. Their oil yield improved and they earned more.
“KKPA members benefited a lot from the scheme. We earn more these days and we even have balance for savings. The infrastructure has also improved tremendously. In the past, we will only visit the market once a week as it is too far by foot or bicycle. Now, we can go to the market daily via motorcycle and car for fresh produce as the roads have been developed and we have enough savings to buy a motorcycle or a car.”
As Chief administrator of KKPA Merbau Sakti, Pak Amir muses that had it not been for the scheme, life would have been extremely difficult when his three children came along. He takes great pride in the RSPO certification for the KKPA which means they have achieved stringent standards. Though achieving the certification has had its share of challenges, the members are glad to be part of the efforts on conserving the biodiversity around them.
Mr Budi Hariyono, Musim Mas KKPA Senior Head Assistant said, “It is still a challenge when it comes to changing the mindset or habits of the local communities to comply with legal requirements, but we will always explain the reason until they understand the situation fully.”
Pak Amir says that joining the KKPA scheme not only improved his life, but also vastly improved his knowledge. He now better understands the symbiotic relationship between humanity issues and the environment. The local communities also have better understanding on how closely connected they are with the biodiversity with better management of their plantations and recognition of the importance of sustainability. All of the members have come to understand how closely connected good management of the land is with biodiversity and sustainability.
Having personally benefited from the KKPA scheme, Pak Amir relates strongly to new members. He helps the management to guide them in their agriculture efforts and looks forward to more people benefiting from the scheme.