Enhancing the Competence of South Tapanuli Farmers through Agricultural Extension

Nov 1, 2023

The success of agriculture in a region is contingent upon its Human Resources (HR). High-quality HR will bring forth and implement the necessary innovations and breakthroughs required by the agricultural sector. 

This is undoubtedly inseparable from the role of the Agricultural Extension Center (Balai Penyuluh Pertanian or BPP) and Field Agricultural Extension Officers (Penyuluh Pertanian Lapangan or PPL) in producing highly competitive agricultural practitioners who contribute to strengthening the agricultural sector. BPP serves as the forefront in providing technical and non-technical assistance to farmers or farmer groups to create successful and sustainable agriculture. Meanwhile, PPL plays a crucial role by actively engaging in the field alongside farmers or farmer groups. 

Ongoing research and the development of knowledge and technology in the agricultural sector are aimed at enhancing the quality and sustainability of agricultural production. In other words, the success of the agricultural sector results from specific efforts, processes, strategies, and evolving approaches. Farmers need to stay informed about these developments. Therefore, agricultural extension services provided by reliable and professional personnel should be carried out regularly. 

Therefore, it is not only agricultural practitioners who require training but also their advisors. These professional extension personnel must possess the skills and knowledge necessary to enhance the learning process of farmers, enabling them to engage in sustainable agriculture.

PT Agincourt Resources (PTAR), the operator of the Martabe Gold Mine located in the Batangtoru Subdistrict of South Tapanuli, aspires to see agriculture in South Tapanuli become one of the leading sectors in maintaining the sovereignty of the people. PTAR envisions that South Tapanuli can nurture millennial farmers, who can produce goods for sale to other islands or provinces and even export their agricultural products.

To support the agricultural potential and enhance the competency of agricultural human resources in South Tapanuli, particularly in the Batangtoru and Muara Batangtoru Subdistricts, PT Agincourt Resources (PTAR) has initiated a program for certifying and improving the competency of 30 Field Agricultural Extension Officers (PPL) in South Tapanuli. This collaborative program with the Ministry of Agriculture’s Agricultural Training Center aims to produce highly competitive agricultural practitioners and strengthen the agricultural sector in South Tapanuli. It marks the first time such a program has been conducted in North Sumatra. 

Previously, in September 2022, an Identification of Training Needs (IKL) survey was conducted, followed by an Institutional Management Training aimed at elevating the capabilities of 15 Agricultural Extension Centers (Balai Penyuluh Pertanian or BPP) and providing guidance. Subsequently, after the Capacity Enhancement Training for Field Agricultural Extension Officers was carried out, this series of activities concluded with a study visit to exemplary BPP locations at the national level based on recommendations from the Agricultural Training Center.

One of the training participants, who also serves as the Coordinator of the Batangtoru Agricultural Extension Center (BPP), Lenny Marlina Nasution, expressed that this program has been tremendously beneficial in enhancing the knowledge and skills of agricultural extension officers. She emphasized that this opportunity was highly valuable and hard to come by due to limited participant slots. “This training has been exceptional and enlightening, providing significant support to our core duties. The content covered during this training can be considered a fundamental resource for agricultural extension officers. The material is detailed, allowing us the freedom to engage in meaningful discussions with agricultural experts,” said Lenny. 

According to Lenny, the program on enhancing the capabilities of BPP and agricultural extension officers has provided her with numerous lessons, such as how to identify field problems, collect physical evidence, solve issues, draw conclusions, and design and evaluate programs. These materials will further enhance the competencies of agricultural human resources in South Tapanuli, which have historically been insufficient.

Christine Pepah, the Senior Manager of Community Affairs at PT Agincourt Resources (PTAR), has high hopes that this program will have a broad-reaching impact. She envisions not only making the management of Agricultural Extension Centers (BPP) self-reliant in accordance with government standards and enhancing the capacities of Field Agricultural Extension Officers (PPL) but also elevating the status of farmer groups and ultimately advancing and sustaining farming households in managing their agricultural businesses. “This Certification Program is our contribution in preparing farmers, especially the younger generation in South Tapanuli, specifically in the two subdistricts within the mining operation area, to be well-prepared and resilient in responding to various agricultural challenges, such as rising food prices and the costs of agricultural production inputs (saprotan),” stated Christine Pepah.

The Head of the Agricultural Extension and Human Resources Development Agency (BPPSDMP), Dedi Nursyamsi, emphasized, “To advance agriculture, first prioritize the quality of human resources.” 


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