Hayu Dyah: Back to the Roots – Community Health in Indonesia

by | Jun 10, 2016 | Archive

In partnership with Levi Strauss & Co, our Youth Environmental Hub provides micro grants to youth-led environmental projects. Our Leadership Team for this hub is comprised of extraordinary young environmentalists who have previously received grants from The Pollination Project.

Here, team member Charles Orgbon III writes about his colleague, Hayu Dyah.

The “Green Revolution” evokes images of sustainability for some people, but Hayu Dyah imagines something starkly different.
Beginning in the 1970s, Hayu’s home country of Indonesia experienced great interest from multinational food producers. These firms sought to drastically increase food yields so they could supply a burgeoning global market. For example, genetically modified seeds for rice, known as I8 rice, were one of the experimental mechanisms that began during this time that led to 30% more rice yields.

Fueled by this new corporate interest, the popular Indonesian beliefs on food began changing. People redefined what was considered quality food. Formerly traditional produce, such as mangroves, were now being considered substandard by Hayu’s villagers, and the foods produced as a result of the Green Revolution were considered the best foods. Even the Indonesian government sent military troops into villages to ensure that local farmers were cooperating with the foreign food production firms, and were growing the seeds that these firms had supplied rather than traditional Indonesian crops.

As a result of the corporate interest, Indonesians were not growing enough food to sustain themselves, and focusing their energy in growing foods that had the greatest profit for the multinational corporations. In 2009, Hayu recognized this relationship and created an organization called Mantasa to recreate the positive image that traditional Indonesian produce once held before the Green Revolution. Leveraging her food and nutritional undergraduate background and graduate background, she would start a new revolution.
In her native language, Javanese, mantasa means bridge. Ultimately, Mantasa is bridging Indonesian communities back to the cultural heritage that stems from their foods. Mantasa is:

  1. increasing public awareness about the food systems in Indonesia, including food sovereignty and food security, including how they correlate with other global issues,” according to its website
  2. promoting a deeper understanding how social & environmental justice can be supported through “seed freedom,” and
  3. supporting grassroots movements in Indonesia who fight to uphold food sovereignty in Indonesia.

In her free time, Hayu enjoys bicycling, playing with her cats, gardening, trying new recipes with edible plants, and hiking around Anjasmara Mountain, near her home in East Java, Indonesia. It is here where she is able to escape the bustling noise of the city and calm her thoughts. In addition, Hayu has a passionate interest in recording her family’s history in words.

Hayu’s greatest treasure in this pursuit is her 100-year-old grandfather, who lived through Dutch and Japanese imperialism and occupation, multiple Indonesian revolts, and even a violent anti-communist purge that lead to the killing of approximately 1/2 million Indonesians. It is through witnessing her grandparents’ strength that Hayu becomes inspired to also make her own positive mark on the planet.

Written by Carolyn Ashworth