Progress report on Cianjur earthquake relief efforts

On Monday 21 November 2022, an M5.5 earthquake struck Cianjur, West Java, Indonesia. Many buildings collapsed and many people were killed and injured.

The Okigaru Agro-industrial Training cooperatives, based in Tungilis, Ciputuri village, were also affected. The union leader's house, located behind the cooperative office, was rendered uninhabitable after a wall collapsed. Five people died in the village.

Toilets constructed by cooperatives

The representative immediately started relief work after the disaster, setting up a temporary tent on the farmland and providing food for the victims. Five hundred people from the settlement are now living in tents.

The cooperative has appealed to the national and local governments, as well as to partner organisations across the country with which it has established links through previous training programmes, to provide medical supplies, more habitable tents, construction of toilets, which are in short supply due to the collapse of houses, and food for the ongoing soup kitchens.

The Okigaru cooperative is an agricultural training center founded by Mr Agus Ali Nuruddin, who coordinates Ikamaja, a national organisation for overseas training experiences.

Mr Agus (right)

Mr Agus himself received agricultural training at a mandarin farm in Arita, Wakayama Prefecture. After returning to Japan, he started a project to create a better place for agricultural training, which has provided training to a total of 900 people since 2013.

The trainees range from pre-trainees for overseas training, agricultural high school students, farmers and ordinary working people. All vegetables grown on the farm are organic. An increasing number of farmers are working as organic farmers after the training, contributing to a new movement to produce higher-quality vegetables in Indonesia.

All domestic pre-training costs for general overseas trainees (specific technical trainees) are covered by the trainees themselves.

Normally, the cost of language training, accommodation, medical check-ups, airfare and visa costs around 250,000 yen, which is a heavy burden for people from this country.

The Okigaru cooperative invites teachers from the Japanese language departments of cooperating universities and others to teach Japanese at the Association, and their stay for training is also free. The association also acts as a contact point for applications for the Asian Agricultural Youth Human Resources Development Programme, which is run by the International Farmers' Exchange Association in Japan.

The cooperative has been able to host a large number of trainees from agricultural colleges and other organisations by providing them with homestays with village residents. All of these training programmes were suspended after the earthquake.

In order to resume training and vegetable production as soon as possible, the cooperative's first priority is to ensure the safety of families, including children, and to create a hygienic environment to prevent secondary disasters such as disease.

The reconstruction of some houses finally began in December. The cooperative has leased a piece of farmland and built a meeting place for training and a warehouse to store agricultural equipment.
In February, youths trained by the cooperative travelled to Japan for the first time since the disaster.

The new office of the Okiagaru cooperative

Full-scale acceptance of trainees will resume from October 2023.