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Jakarta Post

COVID-19: Women farmers make masks to protect villagers in South Sumatra

  • Yulia Savitri

    The Jakarta Post

Palembang   /   Thu, April 16, 2020   /   03:28 pm
COVID-19: Women farmers make masks to protect villagers in South Sumatra Workers plant rice in a rice field in Tunggulwulung village, Malang, East Java, on Friday, April 10, 2020. The workers receives a daily pay of Rp 35,000 (US$2.23), making them eligible for the government's social safety net program. (JP/Aman Rochman)

Women farmers in Menang Raya village in Ogan Komering Ilir regency, South Sumatra, have shifted their focus from weaving plant fibers to producing facemasks to help protect villagers from the fast-spreading COVID-19.

Village head Suparedi said the initiative came from the farmers themselves, who made the facemasks to be distributed for free to other villagers.

“They use sewing machines provided by the Peatland Restorative Agency [BRG] in 2018, as well as sewing materials to produce the masks,” Suparedi said on Tuesday.

Prior to the outbreak, the women used the sewing machines to make handicrafts from purun (Chinese water chestnuts), which are commonly found in peatland.

Read also: Communities more effective than bans to restore peatlands

BRG’s education deputy for campaigns, participation and partnership Myrna A. Safitri said the mask was more than just protection against the virus. “It’s also a symbol for the women’s movement in villages, which have an important role in protecting and restoring peatland.”

The agency, she said, had been working with female farmers in educating them about the importance of not burning peatland, as doing so could prevent forest and land fires.

“They have to be taught how to cultivate their land without burning it because they would also be affected by the big fires,” Myrna said during an online discussion on ecofeminism in peatland restoration on Tuesday. (vny)