CU Lestari’s Best Practices in Wonosobo

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Titch TV's In-depth interviews with three local farmers from Wates, Wonoboyo, Temanggung District below the slope of Dieng Plateau. (CU Lestari/Aji)

TWO unexpected significant things happened in Central Java’s Wonosobo Region in 1999.

As a professional nurse at the time, Sr. Alfonsa PMY, a religious nun from the Daughters of St. Mary and Joseph (PMY), was used to visit scores of rural mountainous areas across the region; including Grugu in Kaliwiro sub district, Buntu and Wates in Wonoboyo sub district and some others places. Her trip was done in order to deliver her health services to the locals.

Brought up as a young girl in a farmer family, Sr. Alfonsa PMY was an avid motivator to local farmers under the slope of Dieng Plateau and in Kaliwiro to initiate a program to cultivate the land with organic agriculture.

At the very first beginning, such a new method of planting the crops was not very welcome by local formers as they initially thought that organic agriculture would be more costly rather than using pesticides. Other reason was that harvesting time would be much longer than commonly expected.

“It really needs much time to induce such a new method of organic agriculture,” says Sr. Alfonsa PMY to Tich TV as we had a two-hour long in-dept interview in her residence in Purworejo’s Purwodadi sub district last mid-March 2024.

Sr. Alfonsa PMY, mantan Provinsi Kongregasi Suster Puteri Santa Maria dan Santo Yoseph (PMY), inisiator model pertanian organik di Wonosobo, Purworejo, Purbalingga saat menjalani tugasnya sebagai seorang perawat keliling ke desa-desa wilayah pegunungan di Kabupaten Wonosobo, Purbalingga, dan Purworejo tahun 1999. (Titch TV/Budi Handoyo)
Pemimpin Umum Kongregasi Suster-suster Puteri Santa Maria dan Santo Yosep (PMY) Sr. Theresianne PMY punya pengalaman menginisiasi berdirinya Tani Lestari dan kemudian CU Lestari Wonosobo. Selama kurang lebih 13 tahun, Sr. Theresianne PMY berkarya sebagai ekonom di Generalat PMY di Den Bosch, Belanda. Ia sudah sarjana ekonomi pembangunan dari IKIP Sanata Dharma didikan Romo Gieles Gilarso SJ sebelum akhirnya masuk biara menjadi suster biarawati PMY. (Titch TV/Budi Handoyo)

A revolution of agriculture

Everything is now changing as much better quality of rice and vegetables as well as more higher price than the earlier common price that most farmers could previously obtained.

Sr. Alfonsa PMY could finally get what was expected to happen: every local farmer in Dieng Plateau as well as in other places such as Grugu, Buntu, and in Purbalingga were finally pleased with the result of this new “method” of cultivating the crops: the price is higher, less costly cultivating the crop, much healthier agriculture products.

Logo CU Lestari Wonosobo.

Finding new markets

But serious challenges were around there. How could these organic vegetables and rice be sold to the market? With the helpful hands of Sr. Theresianne PMY who creatively ignited the creation of “alternative market” in Wonosobo’s downtown, these organic products could finally reached the new market among local residents in Wonosobo City and several places across Central Java and even in the country’s capital Jakarta.

From Tani Lestari to CU Lestari

But there was something more significant thing happening in Wonosobo. Sr. Theresianne PMY created an inspiring initiative to promote saving habit among local farmers.

This was done through the so-called “Tani Lestari” association – an initial embryo for the creation of CU Lestari – a micro-financing Credit Union. (To be continued)

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