The story of Vasham started with a single question: “Why does Indonesia, an agrarian society, annually import billions of dollars worth of staple foods such as soybean, rice, corn and sugar?”
In 2012, Indonesia imported US$ 1.2 billion of soybean, US$ 945.6 million of rice, US$ 501.9 million of corn, and US$ 62 million of refined sugar. The average farm size in Indonesia is 0.89 Ha. There are at least 18 million smallholder farmers in Indonesia living below the global poverty line. Between the years 2003 to 2013, a 10-year time span, the number of farmers in Indonesia decreased by over 25%. Only 5% of all investments in Indonesia go towards agriculture, a sector that contributes more than 15% of GDP.
The above-stated statistics only describe the macro factors engendering the farmer poverty and food security issues in Indonesia. To understand the micro factors in play, we applied a human-centered design approach and traveled to farming villages in Indonesia to learn about the growth challenges faced by the smallholder farmers from season to season. We spoke at length with the farmers, visited their farms, ate with their families and slept in their homes. There were several transformational outcomes for the team that made that initial trip; the greatest one for everyone involved was undoubtedly the birth of ‘Vasham’.
Vasham was born in October 2013 with the single-minded purpose of offering sustainable and scalable business solutions to improve the wellbeing of smallholder farmers, their families and their communities. One of our goals is to help 200,000 smallholder famer households by 2018, and to serve as a catalyst to change Indonesia’s farmer poverty and food security landscape.