AKATIGA Advocacy Research Unlocks Inclusive Job Opportunities in Rural Areas

AKATIGA is an independent and non-profit research organization that focuses on social research activities, monitoring, and evaluating development programs and policy recommendations. Established since 1991, AKATIGA aims to be the leading research reference for improving marginalized groups in Indonesia, promoting their greater access to resources and the policymaking process, especially in the areas of labor, small businesses, agrarian affairs, rural farming/agriculture, community-based development, budgeting policy, and public service.

AKATIGA Advocacy Research Unlocks Inclusive Job Opportunities in Rural Areas

AKATIGA is an independent and non-profit research organization that focuses on social research activities, monitoring, and evaluating development programs and policy recommendations. Established since 1991, AKATIGA aims to be the leading research reference for improving marginalized groups in Indonesia, promoting their greater access to resources and the policymaking process, especially in the areas of labor, small businesses, agrarian affairs, rural farming/agriculture, community-based development, budgeting policy, and public service. 

Currently, AKATIGA is researching the strengthening of job opportunities by influencing a fair and inclusive policy at the rural level. In AKATIGA's study on young generations and agriculture (2017-2020), women are found to be involved in almost every stage in agriculture, both during production and post-production processes. This research on job opportunity strengthening conducted by AKATIGA has three focus, namely (1) promoting access to Village Treasury Land for marginalized groups through District Head Regulation (Peraturan Bupati); (2) conducting an alternative market study for agricultural products to support the improvement of farmers and producers' income; and (3) conducting a youth job opportunity study to encourage stakeholders to provide inclusive and sustainable job opportunities. Recommendations from this study are expected to drive the development of policies that can reduce youth unemployment in rural areas using the agricultural sector's potential.

Inclusive Exploration Process 

AKATIGA's research integrates the Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) perspective. Data and aspiration collection includes teenage girls, female farmers, and female-headed households. In its advocacy research on job opportunity strengthening at the rural level, AKATIGA held several series of studies, namely field researches in 36 villages in Kebumen District, and online discussions with various experts, such as Prof. Benjamin White (Rural Sociology Professor at the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Den Haag) and Alamsyah Saragih (Member of Ombudsman Indonesia 2016-2021). AKATIGA also collaborated with the Civil Society Forum (FORMASI) of Kebuman, specifically in engaging Kebumen District Government. 

One of the aforementioned research outcomes is the difficulties for youth to access lands as agricultural production tools due to high rent pricing or difficulty acquiring lands suitable to be planted. AKATIGA then saw the potential of Village Treasury Land, which can be used by youths and marginalized groups, such as agricultural workers or female-headed households. From here, AKATIGA conducted further exploration on the Village Treasury Land. 

AKATIGA found a local initiative in Sidomulyo Village, Kebumen, which has used the Village Treasury Land for its community's welfare, especially female farmers. AKATIGA explored the system used by Sidomulyo Village in utilizing 22 hectares of the Village Treasury Land. Every year, seven hectares of the Village Prosperity Land, a part of the Village Treasury Land, is distributed to 102 farmers and agricultural workers using an auction system. The village government invited all farmers and agricultural workers to register. The auction did not go by the highest bidder but with a lottery system, giving all farmers the same opportunity. 

Providing access to the Village Treasury Land by auction has been proven to increase farmers' income in Sidomulyo. One female farmer in Sidomulyo, Ibu Atun, in an interview with AKATIGA, said that she benefitted from the harvest in the Village Treasury Land, stating that she was able to pay her child's tuition fee with it. The same policy can be done in other villages that have Village Treasury Land. AKATIGA encourages the support from Kebumen District Government to scale-out the local initiative to use the Village Treasury Land, as had occurred in Sidomulyo Village, for the rural community's prosperity, including female farmers and female-headed households. 

Building Collaborations, Influencing Policies 

In achieving the objective of the job opportunity strengthening advocacy research by influencing for a fair and inclusive policy at the rural level, AKATIGA actively collaborates with stakeholders, namely by (1) conducting stakeholder engagement to ratify the District Head Regulation (Perbup) concerning the Use of Village Treasury Land in a Fair and Inclusive Manner, (2) mentoring piloted villages as an effort to implement the principles of using Village Treasury Land and alternative markets, (3) approaching youth groups to explore their aspirations on job opportunities; and (4) conducting other collaborative and partnership activities with various relevant institutions/agencies, including with the media.

After conducting field research in 36 villages in Kebumen and exploring data and aspirations from various parties, AKATIGA and FORMASI held a discussion with the District Head Yazid Mahfudz, and Vice District Head Arif Sugiyanto, in September 2020 to develop its own District Head Regulation. AKATIGA presented the study result on the importance of Village Treasury Land for the villagers' welfare, particularly marginalized village groups. Both the District Head and Vice District Head agreed with the values and principles promoted by AKATIGA and FORMASI, and supported the issuance of a District Head Regulation concerning a fairer and more inclusive use of Village Treasury Land.

In addition to village treasury land management, AKATIGA also conducted an assessment for the research related to the labor force in the agricultural sector and greater market access. AKATIGA's researcher team gathered extensive information, starting from elements of officials in relevant offices to village government, the poor, youths, job opportunity spaces, and market condition for transactions of agricultural products. Best practices from this research outcome are expected to be included as a part of the policy in the upcoming Local Mid-Term Development Plan (RPJMD) of Kebumen District.

Currently, the Perbup draft on Village Treasury Land is still being finalized at the Local Secretary's (Setda) Legal Division of Kebumen District. In this draft, villages are encouraged to reorganize their village treasury land. Villages are also urged to allocate village treasury land (especially village prosperity land) for marginalized village groups, including youth, almost landless/landless farmers, and female-headed households. This regulation serves as an effort to open access for land beneficiaries to farm and undertake other innovative activities as their means of livelihood. This Perbup is expected to be the driving force for all villages in Kebumen to organize and manage village treasury land for their people's welfare. This includes the welfare of young women, female farmers, and female-headed households, as mentioned in one of the beneficiaries clauses in the Perbup draft. 

Support from Knowledge Sector Initiative (KSI)

KSI supports AKATIGA in its effort to produce researches and implement advocacy processes that promote improvements on fair and inclusive job opportunity policies at the rural level, both in the agriculture and other job opportunity sectors. The support provided by KSI is mainly in the form of assistance in making a roadmap that directs AKATIGA’s research journey to strategically influence the targeted policy and obtain a flexible funding scheme, enabling AKATIGA to design and implement its planned research and advocacy. KSI also supported AKATIGA in profiling their research findings through various knowledge exchange activities, promoting their research to be a reference for policymakers.