The sun had just risen when a 14 years old young man stepped out of the house wearing a long sleeve shirt, trousers, and a cap that made him look the same as a child of his age. This assumption changed momentarily. He carried a hoe and kaneron (a bag made of sacks).
“Arek ka sawah.”
Going to the rice fields, he said. Rice fields are the place he has visited most since the last two years. Adut is the name of the young name. Even though it is tiring, according to him, being in the rice fields is better than feeling bored at home.
When modernity and the lifestyle in the city have hit, rice fields are not an attractive place for young people of his age, who prefer to play gadgets.
For the Kasepuhan Cibedug Indigenous People, Lebak, Banten, rice fields are part of the forest, where they depend their lives on because most of their lives are spent in the fields. Five days a week, from morning to evening they are in leuweung garapan (arable forest, including rice fields, gardens and houses), and two days in the forest to collect firewood or lalapan(fresh vegetables to accompany meals).
Kasepuhan Cibedug is an indigenous people community who live in an area that functions as a national park, namely the Mount Halimun Salak National Park (TNGHS). Kasepuhan Cibedug is located in the core zone of TNGHS, which is an area of National Park that has natural conditions that is still pristine and protected, and is currently applying for Customary Forest.
As a child, Adut lived in Lampung with his mother and stepfather. Adut received only 2 years of education, from grade 1 to 2 of elementary school. After that, he became a labour in an oil palm plantation, as a transporter of oil palm fruit. Her mother and stepfather also worked on the oil palm plantation as sprayers.
Two years ago, Adut returned to Kasepuhan Cibedug, his mother’s hometown. His stepfather admitted that while Adut was in Lampung he still went to school, but in reality, he was not. Instead, he was asked to work on an oil palm plantation. Adut has also forgotten what his real father is like. He does not have any memories with that person. Now, his stepfather left him, his mother and step sister.
In the last two years, Adut’s life was no longer in oil palm plantations, but in the fields owned by his mother and uncles. Sometimes he does macul (hoeing rice fields). Sometimes he does ngebabat (cleaning weeds in the rice fields) or just holding a kokoprok rope (bird repellent made from bamboo). Adut also often goes to the forest to collect firewood.
Adut admitted that he was afraid and ashamed of going to school again, even though his mother and uncle had asked him to. He still doesn’t want to continue his formal education. Currently, Adut forgets what he has learned during school. He can’t read and write. Adut may not know what is the purpose of going to school, and he also doesn’t know what the impact of not going to school.
“I feel sorry for the boy” said some people seeing Adut. “How dare the parents,” said some of the others. “That’s great,” said some of the farmers whose children couldn’t farm.
What is there to be sorry for? Adut is one of the many children in Indonesia who experience the same thing, who drop out of school and go straight to work. Those who can’t read and write. Those who follow their parents to do farming. Those who do not know what their goals are.
What makes it great? Adut may be a special person and will lead agriculture in Kasepuhan Cibedug in the future, because when a child his age is busy playing or going to the city, he chooses to farm and collect firewood in the forest following his local wisdom. When a child his age has no knowledge of farming local varieties of rice (pare gede), he grows it instead.
Change in Perception of Life
Reduced interest in agriculture and local wisdom as an indigenous community, started from a change in perceptions about the life of the Kasepuhan Cibedug Indigenous People. For example, many young people decide to look for work in the city or village nearby. When they returned to Kasepuhan Cibedug, they brought a new life — a different life.
It is still fresh in the memory, when a group of young people told a story about how motorbikes first entered their territory. At that time, the one who brought a motorbike was one of the residents who had lived outside the Kasepuhan Cibedug area for a long time. The group of young people told how they held and paid close attention to this means of transportation. When the motorbike set off, they chased it. The early motorbikes which enter Kasepuhan Cibedug occurred in the early 2000s.
Currently, the younger generation in Kasepuhan Cibedug are flocking to the city. Most of them work in garbage stalls. The young women become household assistants, or help out at trash stalls. There are also many motorbikes in Kasepuhan Cibedug now.
Apart from the large number of young people who went to the city and nearby village, the invasion of information technology in Kasepuhan Cibedug also affected their lives. Although this is not the first time that the internet network has entered their area, it is the most massive.
An example that affects the lives of the Kasepuhan Cibedug Indigenous People is the decreasing number of children who play traditional games outside the home. Currently there are not as many children playing traditional games as seven months ago, before the internet existed. Nowadays children prefer to play on their gadgets late into the night. It is feared that this will reduce interest and sense of responsibility in preserving the customs, traditions and culture of Kasepuhan Cibedug.
Lack of Interest in Agriculture
The important role of young farmers is one of the success factors of sustainable agriculture. In essence, sustainable agriculture is an agricultural system that is carried out through optimal management of potential resources, such as human resources, natural resources, local wisdom, institutions and technology, to keep an effort going and not deteriorating to improve the welfare of society as a whole.
According to data from the People’s Coalition for Sovereignty Research (KRKP), 70% of young people living in rural areas admit that they are not interested in becoming farmers (KRKP, 2015). This is a dilemma, considering that currently 60.8% of farmers are over 45 years old (LIPI, 2017).
From observations, modernity and changes in the perception of life that occur have had a positive impact on the Kasepuhan Cibedug Indigenous People, when viewed from an economic aspect. However, if we trace it deeper, people do not realize that these changes can threaten them. What if no one is farming anymore? What if the local wisdom is no longer practiced? Will the young generation of Kasepuhan Cibedug lose their identity as indigenous peoples?
There is no successor,
Local wisdom is not lived on,
Identities are lost,
Life will be hard to live on
Finally, the changes that occur in the dimensions of the life of the Kasepuhan Cibedug Indigenous Peoples are indeed unavoidable. Changes that take place can have positive and negative impacts on the Kasepuhan Cibedug Indigenous People itself. Adaptation to change is necessary in order to bring optimal benefits, but the preservation of their customs also needs to be maintained.
Although Adut doesn’t know what his goals are, but until now he is still consistent in farming. According to him, going to the fields is a habit to get rid of boredom. In the fields he does macul, ngebabat or just hold the kokoprok rope. According to him, working in the fields is fun and not boring. Hopefully there are other Adut who enjoy working for a long time in the fields, not just having a picnic in the fields for an hour and then returning to playing gadgets.
Author: Siti Marfu’ah
Translator: Alfina Khairunnisa