Junpiter Hasiholan Pakpahan

Junpiter Hasiholan Pakpahan
Junpiter Hasiholan Pakpahan

ARI Name: Junpiter
at ARI: 2008
Home: Parapat
Organization: Semasta
Position: Advisor
Work area: North Sumatra
Other activities: Organic shop, Commissioner for local election monitoring

“If not me, who else?”

Soon after obtaining his bachelor’s degree in agriculture, Junpiter started working at a community development organization called KSPPM as an agricultural trainer. On one of his first assignments he was sent to a remote village in Samosir with nothing but an address and a name. When he arrived, he found they had high expectations that he would solve ALL of their problems, whereas his intention was to work together with them to improve their agricultural practices, recognizing that they already have vast experience in farming. In time the villagers accepted him and his approach and on departing one asked, “You come from town area, but why you – why you come to us? Usually the village people come to town area and now you opposite.” These were shocking words for Junpiter and led him to think, “If not me, who else.” Who else will come to work with the rural people?

After returning from ARI, Junpiter set up a system of garbage management as well as a Natural Farming Institute at KSPPM, where he raised pigs, ducks and a variety of fruit trees and vegetables, and where he has trained over a hundred farmers. One component of this farm is to invite secondary school kids to come and help, so they may learn as they work the soil. Junpiter is also involved in the establishment of an organic shop in the city of Medan to help provide a market outlet for organic farmers. Fresh produce is sold twice a week and the store maintains about 500 customers, 50 of whom are steady. Products with a longer shelf life, such as rice, coffee, beans and others are available regularly. The concept of organic is in its infancy in Indonesia and Junpiter sees this shop as an important promotion tool. Recently, however, Junpiter left KSPPM to assist with starting up a new organization named Semasta. Working in collaboration with other ARI graduates, the aim of the organization is to do more than teach technical aspects of organic farming. They seek to foster leadership skills, impart a sense of care for the environment and create a “spirit of community.” Semasta has already completed one three-month program for 12 students. In the future they hope to add a culture and eco-tourism component. This year Junpiter also took on a temporary role of commissioner for monitoring local elections in 2016. Early in his career, Junpiter was given the option of a high paying job at an oil palm plantation, but he chose instead to go into community work, explaining, “I see something different, and this is connected to my heart; to my heart to empower people.”