Who: Silke Rasmussen
Studying: MA in Human Security
Project: Improved livelihoods of rice farmers in Central Java
Please describe the project you have worked for.
“Preferred by Nature is working with the Belgian NGO Rikolto to introduce sustainable rice farming in Central Java. In this particular project, they collaborate with local farmer schools to implement SRP standards in the local rice production. SRP consists of twelve sustainability indicators, including social aspects, which I have been assigned to research. In my work I primarily focused on the indicator Women’s Empowerment. I followed some of the farmer groups organised by Rikolto and the farmer schools, and gathered research and data relating to the rice farmers.”
Which impacts do you hope to achieve with your work as a junior researcher?
“I think the social aspects are incredibly important in sustainable farming. After all, the farmers are human beings, so the working conditions should of course also be human. My work is looking at the gender aspects of rice production. I hope this will help to ensure that the social aspects are even better integrated in future projects. In addition, I hope my work will help to strengthen the SRP standard and make it more adaptable to local context.”
On a personal level, what have you gained from this experience?
This has been an experience for life. It’s been incredibly exciting to experience javanese culture with all its facets, including food, theatre, religion and superstition. Travelling is always interesting as it teaches us something about ourselves and our own culture, and this has certainly been no exception. In addition, I have of course gained a lot of experience, which I can make use of in my future work.
How did Preferred by Nature help you?
Preferred by Nature gave me a very warm welcome and I really felt appreciated. Initially, we had a very useful discussion on how to make this work in the best possible way for me, and what to focus on during my stay in Indonesia. The office staff in Denmark and in Indonesia have been very helpful and ensured that the project has been running smoothly. It has been very exciting to be part of and to experience work in an international organisation like Preferred by Nature.
Rice is an incredibly important crop. Where I lived in Indonesia, rice was the primary source of food, and driving around Java, you will see rice paddies all over the place. Rice is served at every meal, including for breakfast. The poor are particularly dependent on access to rice, so it is essential to ensure that the volume of production is stable. However, it should still be produced in a sustainable way - rice leaves a huge footprint in terms of greenhouse gas and water use.
Would you recommend others to explore the junior talent programme of Preferred by Nature?
Most definitely. You will get a unique experience following how projects are implemented on ground level and learn how various issues and challenges are being solved as they appear. Although project development has not been in my job description, this work has given me an understanding of project work in an NGO context, and all that it entails, such as funding, budgeting and working with multiple partners. I would recommend anyone interested in learning about sustainable land management to explore these research opportunities with Preferred by Nature.
Would you like to work as a junior researcher?
Preferred by Nature offers a range of internship options for students wishing to gain professional experience in the field. If you would like to join us, please visit here and send us an application including a few lines about yourself, your academic focus and what kind of work you are interested in.