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  • Indonesian president hands over management of forests to indigenous people

Indonesian president hands over management of forests to indigenous people

Saputra watching a fellow Kajang at work weaving a palm-leaf roof panel. Photo: Amy Lumban Gaol/ICRAF
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Andi Buyung Saputra, Kajang leader, left, with President Joko Widodo.

By Lia Dahlia and Amy Lumban Gaol, originally published at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World Blog

President Joko Widodo has bestowed the right to manage customary forests on nine indigenous communities, heralding the end of decades of uncertainty and the beginning of a new era of secure right to land. Under the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, the World Agroforestry Centre and Global Affairs Canada have helped one community regain control of their forests.

Indonesia has had a long history of conflict over control of its massive areas of tropical forests that are spread across the many thousands of islands that make up the archipelagic nation. Declaration under former Dutch colonial rule of state ownership of all forests was rarely accepted by the millions of people who lived in them and who had managed them sustainably for centuries.

Widodo’s formal handover of titles is a highly symbolic step in the long fight for recognition by indigenous communities, whose customary rights remained contested by the new nationalist government after independence in 1945 despite being enshrined in the founding constitution. The islands now known as Indonesia have long been home to thousands of distinct ethnic groups with their own languages, customs and identity.

‘The recognition of customary management of forests is not restricted to the acknowledgment of communities’ rights as stated in the 1945 Constitution. Recognition also means an appreciation of Indonesia’s original values and its identity as a nation’, said Widodo in his opening speech at the Declaration of Recognition of Indigenous Forests event held at the presidential palace in Jakarta, 30 December 2016.


Also read: Impact story: Sulawesi provinces promise to stick with agroforestry


The event was attended by international and national figures, including representatives of the nine indigenous communities receiving customary titles, including the leader of the Kajang people of South Sulawesi, Andi Buyung Saputra. Abdullah Mojaddedi, representing the Government of Canada, was also a special guest along with James M. Roshetko, senior agroforestry scientist with the World Agroforestry Centre and the leader of the Agroforestry and Forestry in Sulawesi (AgFor) project. AgFor had supported the Kajang people in their struggle to achieve legal recognition of the management of their sacred forests. AgFor itself was supported by the Government of Canada.

Saputra watching a fellow Kajang at work weaving a palm-leaf roof panel. Photo: Amy Lumban Gaol/ICRAF

Of the nine recipients, the Kajang were noted by Widodo as a national model from which others could learn. The road leading to recognition was long and fraught, with conflict between the Kajang, different levels of government and the private sector over control of the forests. The fight began when a previous national government had changed the management status of the Kajang’s forests from ‘indigenous’ to ‘production forests with limited uses’, bringing them under the management of the government for various purposes, including allocation to the private sector for the development of rubber plantations.

Roshetko explained that, ‘Good coordination between AgFor’s partner organizations,  the Kajang community and local government was a key to assisting the creation of the Bulukumba District Regulation on Inauguration, Recognition and Protection of the Indigenous People of Ammatoa Kajang. The regulation has led to the current point: recognition of indigenous management of forests, issuing of the presidential decree, and handover of title’.


Also read: Contagious ideas for smarter farms in Sulawesi


Andi Adriardi, a member of Balang, an NGO working with the AgFor project that had helped the Kajang achieve ownership of the title, said that, ‘The Indonesian national government identified the case of the Kajang indigenous forest as a good lesson that approaches perfection it is a well-managed forest where the Kajang have developed a set of local regulations that affirm, recognize and protect based on traditional management, which is supported by modern spatial mapping’.

Even though the Kajang’s forests are relatively small and isolated, the struggle to protect them has had a great impact on the Government of Indonesia’s policy. Not unimportantly or perhaps unsurprisingly, the Kajang’s forests are home to a wealth of endemic species that provide important cultural functions for the people. The forests also store carbon on an island with nearly all of its carbon stock—also known as trees—removed in the last few decades. The deforestation not only increased carbon emissions and contributed to global warming but subsequent agricultural uses have struggled to maintain soil fertility and productivity owing to increased erosion and general degradation of the land that followed the loss of the forests.

Saputra, in his acceptance speech in response to the handover of title by Widodo, noted that, ‘Our traditional wisdom has played an important role in managing and preserving our forests. This has contributed to keeping our Earth greener and reducing the negative impacts of climate change’.

The process toward resolving the conflict and achieving the return of customary title had begun some years before when, in 2008, the Bulukumba District Forestry Agency, assisted by Hasanuddin University, took the initiative to draft a regulation about the Kajang’s forests. That first initiative faced many challenges and for various reasons could not be implemented.

In 2012, the AgFor project started in South Sulawesi with support from the Government of Canada. One of its objectives was to increase the awareness, understanding and technical capacity of participatory governance of agricultural land and forests. Picking up on the government and Kajang’s desire to resolve the conflict, experts in governance from the Center for International Forestry Research, one of the partners of AgFor, provided training in collaborative processes to address complex problems, conflict-resolution techniques, participatory mapping, database development and analysis, and how data can be linked to creating policies.

Participants included representatives of the Kajang leadership and other community members, village and sub-district government staff, members of the district’s Forestry Agency and Tourism and Culture Agency, the Legal Bureau of Bulukumba, and several NGOs, such as Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara South Sulawesi and Balang.

‘Working together with the Bulukumba District government, we were all able to change the process of developing regulations from exclusive to inclusive’, explained Agus Mulyana, senior governance researcher with AgFor partner the Centre for International Forestry Research. ‘We all opened the door to understanding and creating stronger regulations. Our collaborative effort lead to the emergence of the Bulukumba District Decree no. 760/VII/2013 regarding the Formulating Team for the Draft District Regulation for Recognition of Customary People in Bulukumba. Today’s presidential decree is a nice “year-end gift” for everyone’s hard work during a long process’.

That process started with forming a consultative team made up of representatives of all the interested parties, to support the drafting of the regulation to ensure it met everyone’s needs. AgFor partner Balang conducted various studies, such as a stakeholder analysis, categorization of tenure, classification of formal and informal access rights, cataloguing of forest policies, and consideration of the various cultural practices. These studies provided important information to the many people who needed to be included in what was described by those involved as a ‘robust’ participative approach to drafting a complex regulation.

‘An important next step will be providing the community with the knowledge, skills and resources to enhance their management to ensure that their forests remain assets for future generations’, said Roshetko.

Moira Moeliono, AgFor senior scientist with the Centre for International Forestry Research, agreed, commenting that, ‘The district regulation is not the end of the work but rather the beginning of a long journey to improve forest management and indigenous rights. After the promulgation of the district regulation and recognition by the presidential decree, everyone needs to continue to move forward to resolve other matters, particularly, regulations need to be created that link management of the customary forests to watershed management and strengthening the indigenous institutions’.

The recognition of the right of indigenous people to manage forests by the Indonesian Government is an important step in agrarian reform as part of the Nawa Cita, Widodo’s program of nine main strategies to address long-term problems afflicting rural communities, such as poverty, inequality and lack of paid employment. Widodo also pointed out that transferring management of customary forests to indigenous people was a small part of Indonesia’s social forestry program that wants to bring 12.7 million hectares under community management.

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  • Landscape management in the vicinity of Tangale Nature Reserve Area (upstream of Limboto-Bone Bolango watershed), Gorontalo Province

Landscape management in the vicinity of Tangale Nature Reserve Area (upstream of Limboto-Bone Bolango watershed), Gorontalo Province

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Authors: Ni’matul Khasanah, Sri Dewi Jayanti Biahimo, Chandra Irawadi Wijaya, Elissa Dwiyanti and Atiek Widayati

Communities that reside around conservation areas, such as nature reserves, often rely on the natural resources in the vicinity for their livelihoods, while ignoring aspects of environmental conservation. However, environmental conservation is needed to address community pressure, overexploitation of the resources, prevent further environmental damage and ensure that these resources are utilized sustainably. Environmental conservation efforts often trigger conflict between communities and the conservation management agency. Communities tend to consider environmental conservation efforts as a threat to their sources of livelihood. Therefore, efforts to conserve natural resources should be carefully formulated and include livelihood aspects discussed and identified in participation with the local community involved. Tangale Nature Reserve is located in Tibawa Sub-district, Gorontalo District, Gorontalo Province, Indonesia. It covers approximately 113 ha and is primarily a reserve for flora (250 species) and fauna conservation. However, encroachment on the reserve is unavoidable and causes serious degradation. Therefore, through the environmental component of the Agroforestry and Forestry (AgFor) Sulawesi Project, we have identified the need for environmental conservation efforts not only in the reserve, but also in the vicinity of the reserve, taking into account the livelihoods of the communities living in the area. AgFor Sulawesi is a five-year project that is working to address rural development challenges in Sulawesi by enhancing livelihoods and enterprises, improving governance and strengthening sustainable environmental management. The environmental conservation efforts in the vicinity of Tangale Nature Reserve, covering a cluster of villages (Labanu, Mootilango, Iloponu, and Buhu), have been formulated into a Livelihood and Conservation Strategy (LCS). The aim of the strategy is to improve community livelihoods through environmental conservation principles leading to sustainable management of natural resources. This strategy will be used as a guideline for developing agreements between the government and local communities or multi stakeholder agreements and subsequent action plans for implementation.

Publlished 2016 by World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) Southeast Asia Regional Program
Bogor, Indonesia
Volume: AgFor Livelihood and Conservation Strategy – 03

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  • Contagious ideas for smarter farms in Sulawesi

Contagious ideas for smarter farms in Sulawesi

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By Sander Van de Moortel, originally posted at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World Blog

Visitors from all over Indonesia flock to small villages in Southeast Sulawesi that have found ways to increase their profits while reducing environmental impact. The villagers are keen to share their knowledge.

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The occupants of the car brace themselves as it suddenly swerves left, off the safe asphalt and onto a muddy stretch of pits and holes, a treacherous landslide and low-hanging branches that thrash the windscreen. In the makeshift motorcade behind them are government officials, members of the press, the AgFor team, and a delegation of farmers and a scientist from FORCLIME, a German-sponsored sustainable development project in Indonesia. Hailing all the way from Kapuas Hulu, a remote area of Indonesia’s Kalimantan island, they have come to learn from AgFor’s successes on farms in Southeast Sulawesi province.

The cars halt in Lawonua, a small village where the visitors are welcomed by Mr Mustakim, a cheerful rotund man in his forties. Mr Mustakim is the leader of the local farmer group that has agreed to be part of AgFor, and his cacao and pepper farm is one of the project’s demo plots. In fact, as visitors who enter through the gate overgrown with passion fruit will soon discover, Mr Mustakim’s cacao and pepper have the company of a number of other crops, including oranges, banana, coconut, papaya, and rubber. Near the gates, a dragon fruit cactus is slowly making its way up along a tree trunk.

‘Just starting the engine’

The attendants take place under a tarpaulin shelter on the farm’s surprisingly cool north side. Mr Parinringi, the district’s vice-bupati (vice-mayor) grabs the microphone to shower praise on the AgFor project. “I am extremely pleased with the positive impact in our district,” he said, adding that he deplored that the project’s five-year term was coming to an end: “Ideally, I’d like to see the project continue for several more years.”

Mr Akbar, who heads the local extension office, also highlighted that they established an information centre which houses a small library of books about agricultural techniques and processing methods.

Vice-bupati Parinringi congratulates Mr Mustakim in Lawonua village and is very open for more projects under AgFor

Agroforestry techniques became common in Southeast Sulawesi about 20 years ago when land-use intensified with the immigration of farmers from South Sulawesi, Java and Bali. After the forest conversion, the fertile forest soil allowed for high yields. But limited knowledge and poor practices led to substantially lower yields, which forced farmers to clear ever more original forest for their crops.

“What we’re doing here is essentially just starting the engine,” explains Mr Mahrizal, who coordinates the Southeast Sulawesi leg of the AgFor project. “The hardest work is establishing the demo plots so that we have a tangible proof of concept. Once the news spreads and other farmers see the trials for themselves, agricultural practices Sulawesi will change swiftly.”

Hubertus Tengkirang from GIZ Forclime inspecting a cacao-pepper agroforest at Onembute village

Hubertus Tengkirang from GIZ Forclime inspecting a cacao-pepper agroforest at Onembute village

A cacao-sponsored master’s degree

And the new techniques did bring about change. Mr Abdul Kadir, who is part of the farmer group from Onembute village, beams as he announces that his family managed to send their child to university to obtain a master’s degree. “I would have never had the means if I hadn’t joined this group.” The visiting delegation from Kalimantan took notice.

“It’s one thing to learn about new techniques,” said FORCLIME facilitator Mr Petrus, “but many farmers aren’t keen to try on something so radically new. For them and for us, seeing is believing.” It is one of the reasons why the AgFor project arranges these so-called cross-visits. Mr Petrus is himself from a Kalimantan farmer family, but was lucky to study agriculture in Malaysia. Him and his colleagues now help to collect and spread information to the farmer groups back home.

Mr Agustang and Ms Ramlah in front of their colourful house and cacao-pepper farm

Mr Agustang and Ms Ramlah in front of their colourful house and cacao-pepper farm

The visitors curiously inspect the farm’s equipment: the extensive tree nursery that provides high-quality seedlings for the farmer group, the propagator where cuttings from plus-trees (superior specimens) of valuable species are rooting, and the compost heap that produces small quantities of organic fertilizer for the farm.

The villagers are as keen to share their knowledge and experience with the visitors. Questions are fired back and forth as Mr Mustakim demonstrates his grafting and pruning skills on an unsuspecting cacao tree. Mr Iswanto, who presides the local extension agency, discusses ways to preserve or process surpluses of durian in response to its plummeting price when mid-season supply exceeds demand, and to prevent pod borers from ruining the cacao harvest by not intercropping with rambutan.

Mr Petrus collecting valuable information for Kapuas Hulu farmers in Kalimantan

Mr Petrus collecting valuable information for Kapuas Hulu farmers in Kalimantan

More AgFor por favor

The delegation visits three more villages in other districts of Southeast Sulawesi. The villages are ever more remote, the roads ever more inaccessible. Despite the dry weather conditions, a small truck has driven into the ditch, requiring the visitors to find a different route into town.

Yet wherever they went, local government, ranging from village heads to district heads and including all involved agencies, unanimously agreed that AgFor has brought nothing but good. “I’m very proud of what we have achieved in my village,” says Mr Lukman, who is the leader of Aunupe village in South Konawe district. “With five more years of AgFor, I think we will be able to stand on our own feet even better than now,” he adds hopefully.

Ms Sumiasi spreading out drying cacao seeds

Ms Sumiasi spreading out drying cacao seeds

The villagers, too, are happy with the current results. Seated on the floor and snacking on some peanuts, Ms Sri Utami says the spirit in the village has improved considerably since the project’s start. She herself has taken part in a training to build and manage nurseries and propagators. “People from all over the region are coming to visit and see our work, and visits like today’s open the windows of our souls.”

On the way out, Mr Mahrizal enthusiastically taps on the window pane. “Look, another farmer group has copied the nursery idea!” Indeed, when good ideas take root, they grow vigorously.

A colourful goodbye

A colourful goodbye

The AgFor alliance

Agroforestry and Forestry (AgFor) in Sulawesi: Linking Knowledge to Action (AgFor) is funded 2012–2016 by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry. After establishing itself in South and Southeast Sulawesi, operations in Gorontalo Province began in early 2014. In its implementation, AgFor works closely with the local government and is led by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), with support from its partners, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and local organisations in each province: Balang and Universitas Hasanuddin in South Sulawesi; Operasi Wallacea Terpadu (OWT), Komunitas Teras and Yascita in Southeast Sulawesi, Japesda and Forum Komunitas Hijau (FKH) in Gorontalo. The project seeks to make agroforestry a truly sustainable practice, by enhancing existing practices, inspiring innovation, disseminating information, encouraging enabling policy, and by ensuring that the reward is worth the investment risk.

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  • Turning honey into money

Turning honey into money

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By Sander Van de Moortel, originally published at ICRAF’s Agroforestry World Blog
La Ode Ali Said showcasing Southeast Sulawesi forest honey at the Pekan Panen Raya Nusantara 2015 exhibition in Jakarta

La Ode Ali Said showcasing Southeast Sulawesi forest honey at the Pekan Panen Raya Nusantara 2015 exhibition in Jakarta

Concluding five years of AgFor, a multilateral project aimed at promoting agroforestry practices in Indonesia’s exotic Sulawesi region, participating farmers are now starting enterprises to process and market their products beyond their own village.

Funded by the Government of Canada and established by ICRAF The World Agroforestry Centre in April 2001, the AgFor project has been actively promoting agroforestry technologies in Sulawesi, an island in eastern Indonesia. Generally deemed more environmentally sustainable than monoculture, agroforestry is more suitable to farmers’ conditions providing multiple products and lower risks. AgFor also helps farmers to bring their products to market and sell them at a premium, as a reward for their investment in sustainable management.

While the high-value commodities such as black pepper and cacao are readily bought by traders and global concerns, some products are not marketed in the mainstream, such as sagu flour, palm sugar, forest honey and compost. At the behest of the farmers in the participating farmer groups, the AgFor team helped out with business plans, packaging, labelling and marketing.

Who says honey doesn’t grow on trees?

Meet the honey hunters of Uluiwoi, a subdistrict of East Kolaka who traditionally scout the forests for honeycombs produced by the wild honeybee or Apis dorsata. When they find such a golden blob, sometimes hanging as high as 40 m above the ground off a tree branch, the daredevil leader or sopir (driver) clambers up the trees, smokes out the bees, and cuts down the honeycomb. Back on the ground, the pasoema, as the honey hunters are called in local Kolaka language, squeeze out the honey along with eggs and pupae into used water bottles. The resulting honey has all kinds of hygiene and quality problems and a 250 ml bottle sells for no more than USD 1.2. A meagre return on investment to say the least, knowing that groups may spend up to a week in the forest and some climbers never return.

“We thought they could do better,” says AgFor’s marketing facilitator La Ode Ali Said. “We identified a more sustainable and hygienic method which involved carefully cutting the honey bag to slowly drain the golden liquid. It is then filtered through a fine mesh, resulting in a very pure honey.”

Premium bottles of forest honey

Bottles of premium forest honey

The AgFor team, for this component reinforced by CIFOR, Komunitas Teras and Yascita, invited a marketing expert from Hasanuddin University in Makassar to train the villagers in marketing and entrepreneurship. From the training, a cooperative of honey hunters from four villages was born, which buys drained honey from the pasoema. “The honey is now sold in more hygienic packaging with attractive labelling,” says Mahrizal, provincial coordinator of AgFor’s Southeast Sulawesi activities. “The reward is a higher price for the product.”

A 250 ml bottle of the cooperative’s honey now sells for IDR 50 000 (USD 5) in the provincial capital of Kendari. “It’s such an enormous success,” says Kusman who heads the cooperative. “Our entire production of 650 kg sold out well before the start of the next season.”

The AgFor team are now looking to make the product even more attractive by improving the quality. “If we manage to lower the water content below the current 20%, we may one day be able to achieve what our colleagues have done with the Kanoppi project in Sumbawa,” says Mahrizal. Sumbawa honey currently trades for three to four times the price.

Another AgFor project brought organic palm sugar from East Kolaka to the market

Another AgFor project brought organic palm sugar from East Kolaka to the market

Flourishing sagu business

In March and July 2016, AgFor and the local government’s trade and cooperative agency held a series of marketing and entrepreneurship workshops for six farmer groups. The training included basic marketing theory followed by a creative component in which the farmers were encouraged to draw up a fictive business plan for products from their farms. The Mepokoaso farmer group from Tobimaeta village in Kendari district saw an opportunity for marketing its surplus of sagu.

Sagu, a white substance procured from the stems of the sagu palm, is an important commodity in parts of Sulawesi. “It is normally consumed when it is still wet, but when dried it can be sold as flour for use in pastries, drinks, soups, and for other cooking purposes,” explains La Ode Ali Said.

The farmers traditionally sun-drying the wet sagu on tarpaulin which was curled up at the edges to keep out the dust. AgFor marketing facilitators helped farmers created improved processing and packaging techniques and an attractive label. The sagu is now sold beyond the village’s direct surroundings in carefully sealed plastic bags of 500 g and 1 kg. In the future, when production is up and more stable, the label will feature a complete nutritional value chart, which will allow it to be sold in supermarkets around the province and beyond.

Labelled package of Sagu flour

Labelled package of Sagu flour

Organic fertilizer and palm sugar

Supported by Operasi Wallacea Terpadu (OWT), AgFor held several workshops on the production of organic fertilizer. These quickly started to bear fruit, with many farmers in Potuho Jaya village in South Konawe district producing their own compost from organic waste, stems, leaves, and goat or cow manure. “Initially we only sold our compost in and around the village,” says Mr Jingun who leads the Potuho Jaya farming group, “but as demand grew from Kendari and several of the surrounding dragonfruit and ginger-producing villages, we saw an opportunity to expand.”

Acknowledging the benefits of organic over chemical fertilizer, village heads and ginger processing companies alike encouraged farmers to purchase from the Potuho Jaya compost producers. The AgFor project team helped out with the labelling, and provided a machine that took care of the packaging and sealing. The village now sells in a wider area, producing up to 2–3 tonnes of finely ground compost per production cycle. Selling at IDR 50 000 per bag of 30 kg, the village now runs a profit of 1 million Rupiah (USD 100) per batch of 1.5 tonnes.

organic fertilizer

Kusuma, head of OWT, helps farmers of Potuho Jaya sealing a bag of their very own organic fertilizer


The AgFor alliance

Agroforestry and Forestry (AgFor) in Sulawesi: Linking Knowledge to Action (AgFor) is funded 2012–2016 by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry. After establishing itself in South and Southeast Sulawesi, operations in Gorontalo Province began in early 2014. In its implementation, AgFor works closely with the local government and is led by the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), with support from its partners, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and local organisations in each province: Balang and Universitas Hasanuddin in South Sulawesi; Operasi Wallacea Terpadu (OWT), Komunitas Teras and Yascita in Southeast Sulawesi, Japesda and Forum Komunitas Hijau (FKH) in Gorontalo. The project seeks to make agroforestry a truly sustainable practice, by enhancing existing practices, inspiring innovation, disseminating information, encouraging enabling policy, and by ensuring that the reward is worth the investment risk.

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  • AgFor project in Sulawesi helps to empower women in agroforestry

AgFor project in Sulawesi helps to empower women in agroforestry

Farmers group training on nursery management, South Sulawesi. Photo: Enggar Paramita/ICRAF
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Elok Mulyoutami. Photo: privat
Elok Mulyoutami. Photo: private

Elok Mulyoutami is an anthropologist and sociologist with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), working on the Agroforestry and Forestry in Sulawesi: Linking Knowledge with Action (AgFor) project in Sulawesi, Indonesia. AgFor Sulawesi is a project that has been running for five years and involves local communities, civil society groups, conservation organizations and universities to improve farmers’ incomes through agroforestry and natural resource management systems. We asked Elok Mulyoutami about her work and professional background.

Elok, in your own words, what is this project about?

AgFor is a Research in Development project which means that it seeks to address a development issue through research and that we must ensure that the results of our research are used for development processes. AgFor is a collaboration between ICRAF, the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), universities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

There are three interlinked components: Livelihoods, Governance, and Environment. The Livelihoods and Environment components are led by two different ICRAF teams, the Governance theme is managed by CIFOR.

All project activities are designed and implemented to be gender-inclusive and project data and results should be disaggregated by gender.

Women farmers from Borong Rappoa village, Bulukumba who participate in the group training. Photo: Enggar Paramita/ICRAF
Women farmers from Borong Rappoa village, Bulukumba who participate in the group training. Photo: Enggar Paramita/ICRAF

Can you tell us a bit more about the different components of the project?

The project has three components

(1) Improve sustainable and gender-equitable use of agroforestry and forestry products for livelihoods by poor women and men,

(2) Increase equitable involvement of women and men in participatory governance of land use and natural resources at sub-district and district levels,

(3) Improve integrated management of landscapes and ecosystems (environment) by local stakeholders through enhancing their capacity.

Under the Livelihoods theme, we want to improve the sustainable and gender-equitable use of agroforestry products, and to increase women’s participation in governance issues related to forestry.

All three components are designed to create synergies and support each other, and the ICRAF and CIFOR teams work closely together. CIFOR’s work relates to local institutions and NGOs at the three sites in South Sulawesi, South East Sulawesi, Gorontalo provinces.

ICRAF is responsible for designing ecosystem services schemes and livelihood enhancement activities, we have people based there and also collaborate with local NGOs.

Farmers group training on nursery management, South Sulawesi. Photo: Enggar Paramita/ICRAF
Farmers group training on nursery management, South Sulawesi. Photo: Enggar Paramita/ICRAF

What is your role in AgFor?

My responsibility in this project is to make sure that the project implementation is still on track in being gender inclusive and that the data are in fact disaggregated.

The first thing we do is to identify a baseline related to gender issues e.g. income, gender relation, and different knowledge of men and women in each community that we are working with.

Next, we trained everyone involved in the projects, ICRAF staff working in the field, and all implementing partners on the ground in how to conduct gender sensitive projects.

The training program is meant to improve people’s skills in integrating gender in cross-sector programs and to make researchers and implementers understand how gender-sensitive indicators can be used as tools for measuring the results of AgFor. In this, we have to consider the Gender Equality policy of Global Affairs Canada (previously CIDA). Of course, we regularly monitor our progress.

What were the main project activities?

The project target is to reach a women’s participation of at least 50 percent for the outcomes and outputs.

We approach the communities and encourage both men and women farmers to form farmers groups. In these groups, we train the farmers to develop a good nursery, how to produce a high-quality seedling, to deal with the market, pest and disease control. Basically, how to improve their knowledge of everything related to improving the productivity of their garden.

AgFor Sulawesi inception workshop for South and Southeast Sulawesi. Photo: Rob Finlayson/ICRAF
AgFor Sulawesi inception workshop for South and Southeast Sulawesi. Photo: Rob Finlayson/ICRAF

Our local teams, based in every province, play a very important role as facilitators. These teams come mostly from ICRAF and some local NGOs.

With regards to the farmers groups, the communities can decide if they want to have separate groups for women and men or if they want to mix. We observed the progress of the groups and found that the success is not easy to predict. Sometimes mixed groups perform better than the ones separated by gender. The performance depends very much of the location, which, of course, expresses itself in a specific culture and local tradition.

Then, of course we promoted the farmers groups and found a farmer champion in some villages to help us get the message out and encourage participation in the wider communities in each villages. We helped develop 139 farmers groups with more than 2881 farmers as members, 35 percent of them are women, and nearly 10 percent of the women involved are quite vocal in the villages.

How do you explain the project’s gender aspect to the local people?

We try to encourage both men and women to attend the farmers meetings, but we leave it to them to decide if the husband or wife comes alone or if they both attend. We encourage them to also work together in the field, so if one of them has learned something new in the training he or she should communicate it to the other.

It’s easy for the project staff to bond with the local communities because we have offices near the villages where we do our research. Female researchers are available in case we want to gather information on sensitive issues, about which a woman might not talk to a man.

We also have co-facilitators who come from the local communities and speak the same language. They can help in communicating, as the language can be a problem for us in certain locations. And it is important that we don’t force them to participate, but rather encourage them.

How has this project emerged from previous research?

Previously we had projects related to livelihoods, to the environment or to governance, but they were maintained separately. In AgFor, we have integrated the three areas and interlinked them. We learned from previous research that it makes sense to bring them together.

More precisely, in 2007 and 2009 the Government of Canada supported ICRAF in implementing the Nurseries of Excellence (NOEL) Project in Aceh, with the goal of rebuilding agricultural infrastructure after the 2004 Tsunami. The NOEL project was very successful, exceeding its targets.

Therefore, the Canadian government asked ICRAF to develop a project for Sulawesi that would build on lessons learned in the NOEL project.

South Sulawesi, Southeast Sulawesi and Gorontalo were selected as the AgFor project sites to strengthen and diversify farm livelihood systems of rural communities where people where surviving at or below the poverty line. The project aimed to protect communities’ natural capital and Sulawesi’s unique biodiversity.

The projects before AgFor had gender inclusive approaches and disaggregated achievements and data, but unlike AgFor they had no explicit gender target and did not put as much emphasis on gender outcomes.

You’ve worked with indigenous communities and sensitive issues. Did you encounter challenges related to cross-cultural research during this project? If so, how have you dealt with them?

AgFor works with both indigenous and migrant communities.  We follow the cultural norms of each community, adjusting our approach accordingly.

One of the first things we do when entering a community is to stress the need to have a gender equitable approach. Group discussions are used to identify the gender roles and knowledge regarding agriculture production, livelihoods and natural resource management.

That way, the communities can identify for themselves that each gender holds crucial knowledge and skills. They can understand the importance of a gender-equitable approach.

What can this project achieve?

After five years, we can say that AgFor has contributed to a more equitable use of agroforestry as well as agroforestry products. Our data supports that. At farm-level, the participation of women has increased. This means that for the Livelihoods component, the outcome in terms of gender research is positive. For the areas of Governance and Environment it is much more difficult to change things quickly, which is why the representation of women is still rather weak in these areas.

What is your professional background?

I’m an anthropologist and also have Master’s degree in rural sociology. I have been working with ICRAF since 2003. In the beginning, my research was related to local knowledge, so I gathered information from the villages on biophysical issues.

I became interested in gender issues and when gender became more important in ICRAF, people started saying: You could be good as a gender specialist. So I started to learn more about it. This must have been around 2010.

Before ICRAF, I had worked for local NGOs that were involved in research in social sciences. That was in Bandung, we call it Akatiga, center of social analysis.

When I came to ICRAF, I learned more about the biophysics aspect. The fact that I am able to combine all those disciplines gives me so many advantages.

Given that this is the gender newsletter of the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, we would like to ask you: if you were a tree, which tree would you be, and why?

I would definitely be a coconut tree, because it has multiple uses. Coconut products are cheaper compared to other tree crops, but every part of the tree can be used.

Further reading:

Impact story: Sulawesi provinces promise to stick with agroforestry

Nipa-Nipa reserve saved by multilateral alliance of government, farmers and NGOs

Kolaka Timur District moves to adopt agroforestry

Changing mindsets and landscapes in Sulawesi one district at a time

 

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Impact story: Agroforestry and drip irrigation to mitigate long dry seasons in Sulawesi

Mr Didi’s garden has been using drip irrigation with bamboo for keeping the seeds watered. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Amy Lumban Gaol
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Drip irrigation system to water seeds at the bottom of the bamboo tube with protective covering. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Amy Lumban Gaol
Drip irrigation system to water seeds at the bottom of the bamboo tube with protective covering. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Amy Lumban Gaol

Farmers in Indonesia are more optimistic about surviving the increasingly long dry seasons because the World Agroforestry Centre is improving their understanding of agroforestry and drip irrigation.

By Amy Lumban Gaol, originally published at Agroforestry World Blog

Until recently, farmers in Konawe Selatan, Kendari District, Southeast Sulawesi Province, Indonesia thought that agroforestry was to mix trees and crops together in the home garden with little or no planning or management. The results were not optimal: little or no yields and failed plantings.

The farmers were unaware that there were techniques that could be followed in mixing crops, for example, calculating the specific distance between particular species of tree, the suitability of plants for combination and where to plant them in relation to one another.

The situation became more challenging because of a prolonged dry season that caused the failure of many crops, leading farmers to experience difficult times. Their incomes were low and they had very little water.

With temperatures over 37 degrees Celsius and no rain for almost half a year, many crops died. And if the farmers were able to water their crops, the water would evaporate in minutes, leaving the plots as if they hadn’t been watered for months.

To help farmers meet these challenges, the Agroforestry and Forestry in Sulawesi (AgFor) project team has been working to improve farmers’ knowledge of drip irrigation and agroforestry techniques. AgFor is funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development, Canada and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.

After two years of operation in Kolaka Timur and Konawe in Southeast Sulawesi, AgFor started in Konawe Selatan and Kota Kendari in 2014. Konawe Selatan has two sub-districts, Lalembuu and Wolasi, in which seven villages participate actively in AgFor.

“Farmers in my village didn’t know much about good agroforestry practice until last year,” said Mr Maskuri, leader of the farmers’ group in Unupe Village in Konawe Selatan.

Mr Didi’s garden has been using drip irrigation with bamboo for keeping the seeds watered. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Amy Lumban Gaol
Mr Didi’s garden has been using drip irrigation with bamboo for keeping the seeds watered. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Amy Lumban Gaol

“All we knew about growing a plant was to put it in the ground and hope it would live so we could make a living out of it. And, of course, the plants died! We tried again, did the same things and kept hoping that this time the outcome would be different. I did that for years since I moved here in 2008 but it was only in 2014 that I finally managed to successfully plant cocoa for the first time, after I got help from the AgFor team. Now, our farmers’ group plans to implement agroforestry in all our gardens, such as combining rubber and orange, cocoa and coconut or jackfruit and pepper.”

Until now, the number of farmers involved in Konawe Selatan has continuously been growing. In the meantime, 279 farmers, 84 of whom are women, eagerly attend all training sessions and workshops on nurseries, seedlings, agroforestry management and commodity crops.

“Watering my plants using bamboo drip irrigation is a new thing for me,” said Mr Didi, also from Unupe. “I learned this method at a demonstration site with the AgFor team early last year. This is very valuable knowledge since we are experiencing a prolonged dry season. Every day the temperature gets really high and in less than five minutes the heat dries any plants or ground I watered.”

Mrs Asmarani works in her seed nursery, that has recently been awarded with a certificate of acknowledgement by the local government. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Amy Lumban Gaol
Mrs Asmarani works in her seed nursery, that has recently been awarded with a certificate of acknowledgement by the local government. Photo: World Agroforestry Centre/Amy Lumban Gaol

Drip irrigation is not something entirely new for some parts of the community of Konawe Selatan. Some farmers had used plastic bottles as water regulators in the past but with very hot weather the water inside is heated to extreme temperatures, exacerbating rather than alleviating the situation.

AgFor staff provided technical assistance to farmers, such as choosing the right kind of bamboo, preparing the bamboo, demonstrating installation and ensuring that the water reaches the desired location.

“I am so grateful for this new knowledge of drip irrigation,” said Mrs Sitti Asmarani, leader of the Mepokoaso forest farmers’ group in Kendari, “as it is very important for me to have these seeds survive through the dry season. It is now quite clear to me that it requires specific knowledge to implement agroforestry and integrate plants in my garden.”

Her group had recently received formal recognition from the Governor of Southeast Sulawesi for having the best nursery, including availability of propagators and effective administration.

“The award has brought us closer to our dream: to be the best seed producers in the province, particularly in our district, Kota Kendari,” she said.

The Mepokoaso group has produced more than 6000 high-quality seeds, such as durian, palm, pepper, local teak, white teak, clove, cashew, rambutan, cocoa, mango and nutmeg. The AgFor team, which has provided consistent support, hopes that the achievements of the Mepokoaso group will provide motivation to other forest farmers’ groups to further develop their gardens.


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