POST C: Sweet Potatos in the Windusari District

During our trip to the of Windusari district, our group was escorted around the area by a group of keen university students from Universitas Muhammadiyah Magelang. Ryan Tanjung is a part of the MTTC (Muhammadiyah Tobacco Control Center) who are actively trying to change cultural habits around tobacco at both a consumer and a grassroots level. I interviewed Ryan in an effort to learn more about the possible farming alternatives to tobacco and how the district could change to a crop or culture that was healthier and more sustainable. Ryan put forward to me that the area was changing and that this process was already in action especially in the agricultural sector. He stated that “We’ve tried to turn the tobacco plantation into coffee and the Honey Potato because in Indonesia it’s not common popular to know about the Honey Potato and in this area they have it.” 

Ryan looking over Magelang

Ryan’s interview helped to spur on our group work and come up with out plan for 2040 revolving around the two local crops with serious potential to boost the local economy. He said that this shift was not only envisioned by NGOs but also on a government scale, stating; “The minister of national planning wants to increase the development of the rural communities .. and create a new business entity for the local village”

So what is the deal with this Honey Sweet potato?

Sweet Cilembu is a local delicacy in the Magelang area, it’s similar to a normal sweet potato but has flavours or rich butter and honey allowing it to be used in both sweet and savory dishes like ice cream. The area around Mount Sumbing has the correct climate for these potatoes and combined with coffee could become a province icon.

This crop is discussed in Susanti Agustina’s paper Marketing of cilembu sweet potato seeds in the cybernetics era through the content of Dongeng Hui Cilembu: a study of ethno storytelling at Cilembu Village, Sumedang, West Java, Indonesia. She explains that when marketing this crop the method used was to entwine the potato in a kind of mythical story and use this story to disguise the marketing. A method that could be translated to our proposed festival?

Ryan’s interview helped me to understand the shift in the district away from tobacco and that there are numerous untamed resources that could be used as an alternative. In 2013 the Government gave 400 coffee seeds to farmers in the area to kickstart a shift in crops but it would be great to see more funding, teaching and infrastructure being used to indirectly help stop the wicked problem of tobacco.

References

A, Susanti. 2016, ‘Marketing of cilembu sweet potato seeds in the cybernetics era through the content of Dongeng Hui Cilembu: a study of ethno storytelling at Cilembu Village, Sumedang, West Java, Indonesia’ International Conference of Integrated Microfinance Management. Issue 10

Crosby, A., 2019. Design Activism in an Indonesian Village. Design Issues, 35 (3), pp.50-63. https://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/desi_a_00549?mobileUi=0

Indo Indians 2017, Kampung Warna Warni Jodipan, a Colorful Village in Malang, viewed on 13 December, <https://www.indoindians.com/kampung-warna-warni-jodipan-a-colorful-village-in-malang/>.

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