The tropical climate with plenty of rain makes it possible for the same types of crops to be grown throughout the islands of Indonesia.

Most farm land is used for rice or another food crop. Other crops include corn (maize), cassava, sweet potatoes, peanuts (groundnuts), and soybeans. These crops are grown on small farms by the people who work on the land and live in villages, called kampungs. 

Kampung houses are made from forest materials. iStock image

Kampung houses are made from forest materials. iStock image

Kampung is the Indonesian name for a village

While many people live in big cities, more than half of all Indonesian people work on the land and live in villages, many of them as subsistence farmers. Villages are called kampungs. Many people live in traditional houses, although kampungs now contain a mixture of housing types. Traditional houses are made from forest materials with rooves thatched with palm leaves. Many villages now have electricity and television

A catch of fish drying on a beach. Villagers near the sea can catch fish.

A catch of fish drying on a beach. Villagers near the sea can catch fish.

Families work together to plant and harvest their crops and raise their animals. As well as the crops listed above they grow fruit and spices. They keep goats, chickens, pigs and ducks. If the village is near the sea, people also fish.  People in the kampung share tools and equipment.  Any extra food they produce is sold at local markets, where clothing, cooking oil and utensils can be bought. 

Education in the kampung

Each village has a school. Most children attend school as well as helping on their family farm. Older children often travel by bus to a regional secondary school in larger towns or cities.

Celebrations

Villagers share celebrations as well as gathering for weddings and other events.      

Village government

Villagers elect the village council and the village head.The village head and the council make decisions about the running of the kampung, which includes education, law and order, environment, sports and the arts.

Water buffalo are used to pull ploughs, carts and wagons. © iStock

Water buffalo are used to pull ploughs, carts and wagons. © iStock

Transport

In and around the kampung people travel on bicycles, motorcycles horse-drawn carts.  Public transport buses link most of the kampungs to each other and to the nearby towns and cities.

Plantation farming

While much farming is done on small village farms, there are large plantations producing tobacco, rubber, palm oil, kapok, tea, spices such as cinnamon and cloves, coconuts and coffee. 

Some problems caused by farming

The deforestation (clearing trees) in Indonesia by the logging industry and the clearing of natural rainforest to become farm lands, especially for palm oil plantation has destroyed critical habitat for endangered species like rhinos, elephants, tigers and orangutans. All of whichhave become endangered.  

Forest and plantation fires have led to problems of smoke haze. The fires are lit, often illegally, to clears land for farming. The haze makes it difficult to see and causes road accidents as well as making people unwell as they breathe in the polluted air.

 

Go to these kidcyber pages to read more about some of the crops grown in Indonesia

Indonesian food

  • In Indonesia food is hot and spicy.

  • In Indonesia food is often sold on the street.

  • Rice is a part of most meals.

Indonesian food is spicy. This is chicken curry and it will be served with rice. © iStock

Indonesian food is spicy. This is chicken curry and it will be served with rice. © iStock

Indonesian food has been influenced by many countries

Indonesian food has been influenced by many other nations with whom Indonesia has traded throughout its history: India, China, Spain, The Netherlands (the Dutch) and Portugal. With about 6000 inhabited islands, the food people eat is quite varied. In Sumatra, beef is used more than other meats. On Bali the food is peppery and spicy. In Java, meals will generally consist of vegetables, meat or chicken. In the eastern regions, seafood is used a lot.

But wherever you are in Indonesia, most meals, including breakfast, are based around rice, and the food will be hot and spicy.

Nasi Goreng

Nasi goreng: a spice chicken and rice dish © Getty Images

Nasi goreng: a spice chicken and rice dish © Getty Images

One of Indonesiaʼs popular meals is Nasi Goreng. It is a dish made with fried rice, and some chicken or prawns, and often some fried egg, all flavoured with garlic, chilli and sweet soy sauce. It can be bought at a roadside food stall, or eaten in restaurants.
Nasi Goreng is also made at home and served often for breakfast.

A typical daily menu in Indonesia

Traditionally, the main meal of the day is served at midday. The family members help themselves, serving the food with a spoon and then eating with their right hands. However, today, meals are usually eaten using modern utensils, usually a fork and a spoon.

Breakfast in Indonesia

For breakfast, called makan pagi, people might eat Nasi Goreng or babur ayam which is a sweet porridge made from rice or mung beans.

An Indonesian Lunch and dinner

For lunch, called makan siang and dinner, called makan malam, steamed rice, a soup, and one or two main dishes made of fish, meat, chicken, or vegetables, are all served at the same time.

Rice is the staple (main) food for most Indonesians. And Indonesia grows lots of rice! It is the third largest producer of rice in the world. Rice is grown all over Indonesia. 
Corn, sago, cassava, and sweet potatoes are also common.

Sago is a powdery starch made from the soft and spongy pith found inside the trunk of the Sago Palm. Sago is usually cooked as a pancake and eaten with fish and vegetables. 

Mie goreng is fried noodles with chicken and vegetables such as cabbage and carrot. Sometimes a fried egg is added to the top.

Shopping for fresh food at a local market © Getty Images

Shopping for fresh food at a local market © Getty Images

Fish dishes

Indonesia is located between two oceans so there is always plenty of fish in the markets. Many lakes and rivers also provide fresh-water fish.

Meat dishes

Meat used is beef, chicken, goat, duck and pork.

Tempeh

Tempeh is made of cooked soy beans mixed with an edible fungus that makes a mould grow in the soybean mix. This is called fermentation. The mixture is left to mature, like cheese, until it becomes a white cake of tempeh.  Tempeh is used in many recipes in Indonesia and is used in place of meat. It can be fried, steamed, boiled in coconut milk or used in soup. It is a cheap, healthy food, which contains protein and vitamins. Tempeh has been made and eaten in Indonesia for more then 400 years.

Sambal

The most famous Indonesian side dish is called sambal. It is made from spices including chili, shallots, garlic, and trasi (shrimp paste). Sambal is often cooked with fish, vegetables, and meat.

Fruit

Mango (manga) banana, coconut, jackfruit (nangka) and papaya are just a few of the many different kinds of fruits found in Indonesia.

Desserts

Cakes, dumplings, puddings and biscuits, are made from glutinous rice flour, palm sugar and coconut milk. They are either steamed or baked.

 

Food is available day and night from street vendors like this © Getty Images

Food is available day and night from street vendors like this © Getty Images

Watch a video of a street vendor in Indonesia: he's selling curd (like yoghurt) topped with sweet palm sugar syrup