Devi Anggraini, President of PEREMPUAN AMAN, and National Council of Sumatera Region of PEREMPUAN AMAN had discussions with Indigenous Women of Rakyat Penunggu in PHD Deli, Saentis Community (04/06/2018). The discussion was about the financial situation of the households of the locals. [/caption] 

Deli,— The soil condition in Indigenous Territory of Rakyat Penunggu in Saentis Community is classified as fertile. The condition is what it is because of the enclosing geographical landscape, which is a swamp. After the people of Rakyat Penunggu fully reclaimed their indigenous territory, the palm trees were then cut down. The locals tried to revitalize the damaged soil after being used as a palm oil plantation. According to them, palm trees damaged the soil condition. Aside from absorbing much water, the chemical compound that was used in fertilization also took part in ruining soil condition. 

Almost all Indigenous Women are peasants. They work in the field to make ends meet. They mostly plant corns, vegetables, and rice. Nearly all of them have vegetable plants in their backyards. Chemical fertilization is inevitably used as it needs a long period to revive the soil fertility. 

Aside from farming, some of these Indigenous Women work in palm oil plantations. Their job is to search for berondolan; the remaining of the palm fruits that are fallen to the ground. However, berondolan-picking is their side job. These women do this side job during recess time while waiting for the harvest season. They mostly pick berondolan after planting, fertilizing, and cleaning the field. 

According to Mei, a 40-year-old mother, also an Indigenous Woman of Rakyat Penunggu, she has to take the side job as she needs cash.

“We need cash every day. There are expenses like daily needs and gasoline that we need to buy each day,” told her. Mei is also the member of PEREMPUAN AMAN in Deli. Berondolan-picking will help an Indigenous Woman to earn around 50,000 to 150,000 rupiah.

Geographically speaking, the indigenous territory Saentis borders with Precut sea. Regardless the area is located nearby the sea and is a seafood producer, the price range for fish is sometimes unaffordable. Take a kilo of fish, for example. A kilo of mackerel will cost around 35,000 to 40,000 rupiah. Other kinds of seafood, like squids and crabs, are more expensive. It will cost approximately 40,000 to 50,000 rupiah for a kilo of squids and 55,000 to 85,000 for a kilo of crabs. These prices are on par with the seafood prices in places that are far from the sea. 

According to Bapak Adang, a 50-year-old local, the seafood prices are regulated by middlemen. Besides, floating restaurants nearby the sea also impact the seafood prices, as the consumers come from outside of the region.

Almost all men in Saentis Community depends on the sea for a livelihood. Most of them are fishers. They own traditional boats, as well as conventional fishing rods and nets. They will fish in a group as a part of their tradition.

Unfortunately, their catch is not that much. It does not even cover the cost to fish. This condition makes many of them do odd jobs with unstable wage. Eventually, it is the women who play a significant role in households in term of finance. 

Members of PEREMPUAN AMAN in PHD Deli, North Sumatera, was eager to learn how to make liquid and organic fertilizer. The making of the fertilizer is impactful as they now can create something that is helpful to the sustainability of their fields. Hence, all the needs of their families and communities could be fulfilled as well (24/12/18).[/caption]

To enhance the economic potential in the indigenous territory of Saentis, PHD Deli of PEREMPUAN AMAN organized the Indigenous Women to own a collective field. From this collective field, Indigenous Women of Rakyat Penunggu in Saentis could escalate family income. The collectively organized area will not burden any of these Indigenous Women. Their joint work would also revive the gotong-royong culture, which roots to one of fundamental Indonesian culture. 

Currently, PHD Deli of PEREMPUAN AMAN has been working on two different collective fields. Two separate groups of Indigenous Women organize the two areas. Both groups plant corns and vegetable plants. The organization of Indigenous Women had already discussed and settled the sharing results from the fields and their collective work. Until now, they already had one harvest from these fields.

Last December 2018, PHD Deli of PEREMPUAN AMAN had facilitated the training to make organic fertilization in the indigenous Saentis territory. The training is one of the attempts to boost knowledge and spirit of the Indigenous Women of Rakyat Penunggu to rejuvenate the soil fertility.

Sarinah Yanci Pardede

Documentation of PEREMPUAN AMAN: Sarinah Yanci Pardede

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