It was 10 a.m. in the morning when I met Eko Sumitro, a young man welcoming my visit with his big smile at his simple house.
He has been part of the Green Project of Aliet Green for more than 5 years.
I went there as part of regular visit to meet farmers receiving Fair Trade Funds of the running Fair Trade projects. I am always excited to visit farmers in hilly areas as my short recreation. This time, my visit was about to analyze the needs of disabled farmers due to farm accidents.
This Fair Trade project for disabled farmers later called SOCIAL FARMING was launched in late 2017. The aim of this program is to support disabled farmers who either are still able to work at farms or are unable to do so at all.
Social Farming involves economic participation for vulnerable persons (e.g. people with physical disabilities due to farm accidents) to integrate back into society. It does this by providing them with new skills and by rewarding them with a feeling of usefulness and self-appreciation.
Farm accidents causing injuries include severe back, leg, or arm and leg impairments (including amputations), and spinal cord injuries.
Farm accidents are among the most prevalent workplace injuries.
Falling down the coconut trees has become Aliet Green’s concerns in all aspects considering Organic Coconut Sugar has been its main commodity. There is no tool or technology to help farmers harvest the coconut blossom sap until now. All has to be done manually.
Eko Sumarito, 23 years old, an elementary school graduate, was once, alike just one of young coconut farmers assisting his family by harvesting his income source through making Organic Coconut Sugar. He definitely knew this main income has fed his family since he was a little baby.
As the only child of the family he feels that he is responsible for taking care of his parents.
This is how the Javanese tradition works. Who knew that he experienced a bad injury losing one of his legs due to falling off the coconut tree. Climbing up the coconut tree is a seriously dangerous job to do, especially during rainy season.
He was completely sad once he knew he only had one leg to struggle and harvest his income. It took more than 8 months for him to get used to his new life and understand situation he was dealing with.
When I met him last week, he has showed his dignity and strength that he has gone back to work and started to climbing back again. Eko Sumitro is just one of the farmers experiencing bad farm accidents. He got back on his foot once he passed through a long misery losing his leg.
He is officially disabled, but he is truly enabled because of his courage to take the challenge to not give up. His unique challenges have opened up unique opportunities to reach so many in need having the same disability with less courage.
Not only does he show farmers how they can still farm, but he provides the tough love to get them out of their self-pity and despair.
As a customer, you may not realize if you may have received or imported at least one gram of Coconut Sugar in one of the bags produced by farmers like Eko Sumitro who is physically disabled. Amazingly, he can still climb up some of coconut trees he owns. His mother helps boil the harvested coconut blossom sap every day. He also involves another climber to harvest the rest of his coconut trees of which he cannot reach out due to hilly areas by profit sharing (2 days output to owner e.g. Eko Sumitro and 2 days to climber).
Farmer income varies significantly depending on trees tapped and ownership model. Estimated hourly labor income being a Coconut Sugar farmer is USD 0.65. As this way continues, farmers can live above minimum regional wage stated by the local government. This is what we call a decent price.
Aliet Green believes social farming can embrace all economic aspects reaching out disabled farmers like Eko Sumitro. As he also deserves a good life for his hard work producing Coconut Sugar with international standards with his disability. As worldwide demand continues to grow.