Fellow Since 2001
Serikat Paguyuban Petani Qaryah Thayyibah
This profile was prepared when Bahruddin Bahruddin was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2001.
The New Idea
Bahruddin has seized this moment of greater political openness in Indonesia to launch a union of small farmers' associations in Central Java, one of Indonesia's richest agricultural regions. Unlike the associations that sprang up in the days of the restrictive New Order regime, Bahruddin's union sticks close to its constituents. It focuses its services and advocacy efforts at the district level, allowing local representation and delivery of services. To help small-scale farmers survive the devastated agricultural economy, the Union offers practical advice and much-needed services: advocacy in water and irrigation disputes, access to markets and cooperative buying, and information on organic production methods, to name a few. At the same time, it stresses the importance of longer-term strategic planning and the development of local citizen-led initiatives. Given the active discouragement of autonomy and civic participation in the nineties, the union helps bring about a dramatic cultural and political transformation, helping people to launch truly democratic citizen efforts that strengthen local governance.