Starting September 2017, Saluyu Dairy Cooperative in West Java, Indonesia, will host two Dutch interns from HAS Den Bosch. Interested in what they will be doing at Saluyu Dairy Cooperative and how they experience their time abroad? Read the article and find out!
Both 19 years old Bram van Beekveld and 20 years old Anke Fleerakkers are students of Agribusiness and children of dairy farmers from North Brabant (Heeswijk-Dinther and Duizel, respectively). Assisting them for their assignments and the language for the coming months are two Indonesian students: Aranta Putri and Hilaria Jessica. Bram and Jessica will work on creating a membership database for Saluyu whereas Anke and Putri will create a number of standard-operating procedures to be used by the cooperative with the ultimate goal of improving the milk quality at Saluyu.
The contrast between the two countries could not be overstated and the interns were greeted with a lot of surprises even on their first day of being in Indonesia. Anke, who arrived some days earlier than Bram, saw many bright neon-lit skyscrapers in the city of Jakarta as she made her way to the cooperative and began to wonder if she accidentally landed in New York or Las Vegas. Even stranger still, immediately upon his arrival Bram van Beekveld was invited to attend a “Dutch cultural day” organized by the Dutch Embassy, only to be slightly disappointed by the fact that all ‘kroketten’ and ‘bitterballen’ were already sold out.
To speak of Indonesia is to speak of hospitality and both Dutch interns and their Indonesian partners are showered with warm hospitality by the cooperative and the surrounding community. They receive plenty of meal invitations and something as ordinary as a farm visit would frequently end up with the interns being offered fruits and other light snacks. If Dutch people look at lunch as something that happens between Appointment #4 and Appointment #5 in their clearly defined agenda, then for Indonesians the opposite applies: work is something you do between meals.
The dairy sector of Indonesia, however, could not be compared to the Netherlands. As both interns introduce themselves to the cooperative and tell stories about the numbers of cattle their families own, size of farms and equipment used, these stories are always received with amazement and curiosity as to how the Dutch farmers manage to grow themselves into such a scale. Both interns also have to quickly get used to the much smaller and less developed nature of the Indonesian dairy farming. With the high population density, lack of available farmland, difficult access to financial loan, lack of government support towards the agriculture sector and poor image of being a farmer, the challenge faced by Indonesian farmers is huge. Still in the middle of this difficult situation, the interns have managed to work to the best of their ability. Bram van Beekveld quite wisely states that while the Indonesian dairy may never become on equal level with the Netherlands, Indonesia should still find its way and that he is happy to assist the cooperative in finding that way.
A number of activities have been conducted in the past week. Anke and Putri have visited several farms and observed and taken notes about the way farmers milk their cows and maintain their stables. These observations will later be used as baseline for which a standardized procedure on good practices will be created. Bram and Jessica have interviewed Saluyu board and staff to get a fuller picture on the structure and strategy of the cooperative. Where necessary, both interns happily provide suggestions for improvement. At the time of the writing of this article, Saluyu is interested to start a new cheese production unit and has just conducted a study visit to a Mozzarella production business near Jakarta. While not directly linked to their assignments, the four interns once again showed a great deal of flexibility and interests by participating in this study visit and taking plenty of notes to help Saluyu set up its new business unit.
Saluyu dairy cooperative is also already thinking about its long-term future and it has agreed to set up a youth council as a way to encourage, motivate and inspire young people to become more involved in the dairy sector and in the cooperative. To assist this youth council in its set-up phase, a training was conducted and two young Dutch farmers and FrieslandCampina youth council members, Kris Posthumus and Jouke Huitema, were invited to Saluyu. All four interns proved to be great help during this training. Indonesian students Aranta and Jessica, being familiar with the language and local customs, assisted with the group discussions and ensured that content was understood by the young people of Saluyu. Bram van Beekveld, being also a member of Brabant Agrarisch Jongeren Kontact, took detailed minutes of the training and shared a personal inspirational story about why he is proud to be a farmer. Anke Fleerakkers who back in her hometown is actively involved as a Scouting team leader, kept the energy level high by leading a fun-but-still-educational group game that was enjoyed by all.
Almost a month has passed since the interns started their assignment and another three months are still ahead of them. There will be still a lot of work to do, issues to address and surprises to get used to. Yet the atmosphere remains upbeat and the interns are looking positively into the days ahead of them.