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A millennial advocate pushes for a youth-led digital future for Indonesian fisheries

Siti Aisyah Amini, perempuan muda asal Madura, saat mengikuti KTT FAO di Kota Roma, Italia, pada awal September 2022. Foto : Dok SIti AIsyah Amini

  • Siti Aisyah Amini is a final-year law student who attended the World Food and Agriculture Organization’s Committee on Fisheries summit in Rome in early September.
  • She served as an international representative of the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty’s Youth Working Group and a national representative of the Indonesian Traditional Fishers Union, or KNTI.
  • The 24-year-old spoke to Mongabay Indonesia about the concerns of Indonesian fishers, and how youth and digital technology need to be involved in the industry and national fishery policies.

JEMBER, Indonesia — Earlier this month, Siti Aisyah Amini, a fourth-year law student, took a break from campus life in Semarang, Indonesia, to attend the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Committee on Fisheries summit.

Not from a fisher family herself, 24-year-old Aisyah, who goes by her middle name, was drawn to the issue of fishers’ rights after reading articles about the condition of fishers and developing a nagging sense that they were not getting the attention they needed in Indonesia, the world’s fourth-most-populous country.

In 2019, she joined the Indonesian Traditional Fishers Union (KNTI), a branch of the World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP), and in 2020 served as WFFP’s Asia regional coordinator. The following year, she took on her current position as head of human resources at KNTI. So it was no surprise when Food First Information and Action Network and the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in Indonesia tapped Aisyah to represent another global food sovereignty alliance: the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty’s Youth Working Group (IPC-Youth).

“Indonesia is a maritime nation, with abundant marine resources that theoretically should help fishers prosper. Yet they aren’t,” Asiyah, who is in her final year at Sultan Agung Islamic University in Semarang, told Mongabay. “Something needs to be fixed; fishers should live full lives with good health, education and equal social standing. Instead fishers are marginalized.”

At the summit in Rome, Aisyah made a presentation lamenting the decreasing number of fishers in Indonesia. Her pet advocacy topic is the need for youth and technology to be involved in policymaking to break the prevailing view that marginalizes fishing communities. Providing subsidized fuel is one area where Aisyah insists the government must help.

“Fishers do not receive attention from the government now,” Aisyah said. “This could push future generations to adopt the same apathetic outlook toward fishermen and fishing as a way of life. Fishers are already advising their children to choose other professions.”

Siti Aisyah Amini at the summit in Rome. Image courtesy of Siti Aisyah Amini.

Aisyah said hopes the idea of a “modern fisher,” one who embraces technology in all stages of the fishery, from fish capture, to production and marketing, might “at least engage young people to be involved in Indonesian fisheries and marine affairs.”
Government officials appear to agree with Aisyah. At the Fisheries Millennial and Startup Expo held in the capital Jakarta in May, the fisheries ministry invited millennials to innovate in advancing the marine and fisheries sector.

“I hope massive layoffs do not occur in marine and fisheries sector startups because the potential of this sector is unlimited,” Sakti Wahyu Trenggono, the fisheries minister, said ahead of the expo. He was referring to the number of fishery-related information technology startups that have come about since 2017.

The list includes eFishery, a West Java-based startup that offers cloud-based analytics for aquaculture facilities. Its CEO, Gibran Huzaifah, was featured in a Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2017. Jala Tech and Banoo are other aquaculture startups that place smart sensors in fish and shrimp ponds. The sensors send farmers updates on their cellphone on water quality. Banoo also sells aerator machines for ponds.

In fishery marketing, SAYGrowpal is an example of a national digital platform connecting investors with fishery businesses, including aquaculture facilities, fishing boats and processors. Aruna is an online platform connecting fishers to wholesale and retail buyers.

With the push to move Indonesian fisheries into a young and digital future, Aisyah said she thinks youth can lead the way.

“What I learned from attending the FAO forum is that young people can be role models,” she said. “The FAO said they will visit Indonesia after listening to my presentation. We are an example of decision-making.”

Banner: Siti Aisyah Amini at the FAO summit in Roma in early September Image courtesy of Siti Aisyah Amini.

This story was reported by Mongabay’s Indonesia team and first published here on our Indonesian site on Sept. 14, 2022.