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"Let’s show the world that agriculture is an attractive career"

This success story is the first one of a series that spotlight IAAS members' experiences in agricultural development. YPARD-IAAS series will feature, every two weeks, young champions from different regions of the world. 

By Ratih Nawangwulan

Elifas Omega Yusufadisyukur, or best known as Yoga, was inspired to work in the world of agriculture ever since he attended the college of Agriculture, Sebelas Maret University (UNS), in 2010. He fell in love with the economic system in agriculture and intrigued to go deep into the business area.

Yoga tried to implement what he had studied in college by planting some crops in his parents’ field such as organic rice and legumes. It turned out that his small research on field could result in high yield crops, particularly for the organic rice. Since rice in Indonesia had a high demand and people nowadays are more concerned to have organic products on their table, his business in organic rice grows huge and earns fame.

In his sophomore year, he has successfully established a partnership with many big business ventures such as UD. Mandiri that based on his hometown, Karanganyar, and the Association of Karanganyar Organic Farmer (PERNIK) to distribute his products to some big cities in Indonesia such as Bogor, Tangerang, Semarang, Sidoarjo, etc. As an agribusiness student, he has been very lucky to study theoretically about agricultural economy from professors and to practice the knowledge and skills on farm at the same time.

As a result, he has successfully built his own empire of organic rice business, created a strategy on how to develop his business and even found a new knowledge based on his field experiences at such a young age -- without a hand hoe in sight. This brought him to be involved in some national entrepreneurship exhibitions, auctions and to negotiate with some big traders of rice in Indonesia on some major cities such as Surakarta, Semarang, Yogyakarta and Bali.

Yoga - The Young Organic Rice Farmer from Indonesia

To grow his business bigger and to expand his network, he participated in a business incubator program provided by the Indonesian State Minister for Cooperatives, Small and Medium Enterprises (UKM) and actively got involved in the Young Entrepreneur Community of Surakarta (HIPMI Surakarta). He gained much knowledge and experience about the real condition of farmers, markets, and business strategy in Indonesia by learning from experts.

His growing business became the topic for his bachelor thesis with the theme “The Optimization of Organic Rice Distribution using Transportation Model” which drew the attention of the faculty members and received a recognition from the university as one of the most successful young entrepreneurs at UNS. As his business became larger, the government of Karanganyar often provided him financial and technical assistance as well as invited him and his partners (UD. Mandiri and PERNIK) to showcase their products at some events held by the government.

In August 2012, he finally decided to target other markets for his product and built a brand with the name “Asem Grendel”. This led to a wider expansion of his business and successfully entered new markets such as modern market, organic baby food franchise, and direct selling to the community. He believes that his business would grow bigger as time goes by for its promising potency and market.

IAAS and Agriculture Career

Yoga’s flourishing agriculture career is closely related with his involvement in the International Association od students in Agricultural and related Sciences (IAAS). In his freshmen year, Yoga started to be actively involved in IAAS by joining in as the organizing committee of the 16th IAAS Indonesia National Congress held in UNS, Surakarta, in which he was unexpectedly appointed as the chairman of the congress.

He profoundly developed his leadership in IAAS afterwards from staff of a department in the local committee of UNS until he finally reached the top position of IAAS Indonesia as the National Director through a national election in 2012, adding some more achievements in his life next to his agripreneur career.

He is a very well-known and charming leader in IAAS for his inevitable charisma, humble personality, as well as tons of leadership experience. His term as a National Director was remarkably successful and productive. To him, IAAS has changed his life at some essential aspects: knowledge, network, and vision.

The knowledge enables him to exchange information with other IAAS members all over the world who share the same passion in agriculture. Through the World Congress, National Congress, and other sharing forums, he gets the chance to meeting and discussing with many influential people, travelling all over Indonesia, and broadening his knowledge in agriculture.

The network he builds through IAAS has rewarded him with things beyond his expectation. He becomes acquainted with students in over 37 countries including Indonesia itself who share the same passion in agriculture development and with various notable achievements. One thing that grabbed his attention is that when he attended some national events or scholarship programs, he would meet at least one IAAS member by chance. Thus he believes that networking is the best investment that is very useful both in the present and in the future.

Last but not least, it is the vision of IAAS in global agriculture which influences him to dedicate himself as a young leader and entrepreneur. Agriculture would obviously be the most vital object in the future because food is the basic need for all living things. However, human population continues to grow over the years and yet not followed with arable lands availability.

It leads to a question, how can we feed that many people in the future? This question brings him together with the other members of IAAS to tackle this global challenge through youth empowerment and the exchange of knowledge and experience.

Yoga’s Message for Young People to Get Involved in Agriculture

Many young people nowadays view agriculture as a dead-end future, but Yoga has a different opinion, “Clearly, every living creature has the instinct to survive in this world, and one of the basic attempts is to feed themselves. Therefore, agriculture is very important not only to provide foods, but also jobs for young people.

By following our instinct and develop our skills, we will not only feed ourselves, but also million people out there who are starving from hunger. I have experienced it myself. Let’s show the world that agriculture is an attractive career.”