Sutiyana: Leading cooperative with rapid business development

Sutiyana, a group leader in Tani Subur Village Unit Cooperative (KUD) in Pangkalan Tiga Village, Pangkalan Lada District, Central Kalimantan.

For 13 years, Sutiyana, a man born in Boyolali, has led Tani Subur village unit cooperative (KUD) in Pangkalan Tiga Village, Pangkalan Lada District, West Kotawaringin, Central Kalimantan.

His leadership helped KUD Tani Subur develop its assets up to billions of rupiah and remain resilient during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The cooperative, established in 1984, initially aimed to support newly-settled transmigrants by providing them basic necessities and continued to diversify its business models, offering loans and providing facilities for livestock, poultry, and others.

In his career path, Sutiyana, who is also a palm oil farmer, has been elected as a member of the West Kotawaringin Legislative Council (DPRD Kotawaringin Barat) twice since 2014. This illustrates the strong public trust in Sutiyana.

As a cooperative leader, Sutiyana says the 36-year-old village-level cooperative is committed to continuous growth and supporting the local communities.

“To support the locals and the members of the cooperative, we seek to do our best in fulfilling their needs through personal development and sustainable palm oil training programs,” said Sutiyana.

These training sessions are expected to improve the organizational skills and sustainable farming practices of the cooperative members. Nearly all of the farmers joining the cooperative membership already have certification, meaning their oil palm plantations have produced palm oil sustainably according to the principles and criteria of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO). KUD Tani Subur, moreover, is the first cooperative selected to implement a sustainable palm oil certification system in Kalimantan.

Tani Subur Village Unit Cooperative (KUD) in Pangkalan Tiga Village, Pangkalan Lada District, Central Kalimantan.

The sustainable certification program, which has been implemented by KUD Tani Subur with support from Kaleka, has generated financial benefits which are used for business diversification. Currently, Pangkalan Tiga Village has a department store, cattle farm, and agrotourism center in the middle of an oil palm plantation. The agrotourism center attracts families to spend the holidays together in water recreation and fishing spots.

As a leader and coach, Sutiyana strives to innovate to grow the cooperative and help farmers adopt sustainable farming practices. Among them is by promoting the High Conservation Value (HCV) app, seeking to enable farmers to record and report wildlife species found in their oil palm plantations easily.

“I have also instilled the principles of transparency and the courage to step forward into KUD Tani Subur members in terms of the cooperative management strategy,” said Sutiyana. “We also conduct a cooperative evaluation every Monday morning to review our performance in the previous week.”

A supervisory body oversees the activities of KUD Tani Subur, making it easier for Sutiyana and other members to keep track of their progress on increasing the profits. Cooperative members also felt the devastating impacts of the pandemic.

“We are feeling devastating by the pandemic. We used to get an income of up to Rp 2 billion from the agrotourism program. Still, due to the local government’s decision to close tourist attractions, the revenue from agrotourism business has declined drastically,” Sutiyana explained, adding that the cooperative business is currently going down.

Instead of giving up, Sutiyana tried to transmit enthusiasm to the cooperative members to remain productive in developing other programs, such as a cattle farm that processes the palm oil plantation wastes. But above all, Sutiyana hopes that KUD Tani Subur will continue to support Pangkalan Tiga Village.

“Hopefully, KUD Tani Subur can support the local economy with its businesses,” said Sutiyana.

Sutiyana (second from left) with members of Tani Subur Village Unit Cooperative (KUD) in oil palm plantation