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Investing Hope in Eastern Indonesia with Conservation Agriculture

Investing Hope in Eastern Indonesia with Conservation Agriculture

Over the past three years, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations [FAO], in partnership with the Indonesian Agency for Agricultural Research and Development (IAARD) of the Ministry of Agriculture, have been introducing conservation agriculture (CA) techniques in Nusa Tenggara Timur and Nusa Tenggara Barat Provinces to enhance small farmer adaptation to climate change.

The conservation agriculture techniques introduced have shown promising results, with maize yields on average 77% higher, when compared to conventional farming practices. Three key principles are applied in CA, including: minimum soil disturbance, permanent soil cover, and crop rotation.

The achievement was shown at the national consultation on Conservation Agriculture in Sari Pan Pacific Hotel Jakarta [6/12]. The consultation aimed to develop the process of institutionalization of Conservation Agriculture in the national policy.

As of today, the project engages 264 Farmer Groups with around 6000 farmer members with one third of the members being women. The project area cover nine districts, 27 sub-districts and 65 villages in the two provinces.

The project is expanding its work in collaboration with the Food Security and Extension Board (BKPP) of NTT and the Extension Board (BAKORLUH) of NTB province. CA Training of Trainers (TOT) has been conducted at provincial level for 49 extension officers from 10 selected districts in NTT and NTB.

Further CA TOT at each selected district has been conducted and attended by extension officers from five selected sub-district extension offices (BPK) and agricultural vocational schools. In total 275 extension officers, 30 teachers and 321 students from agricultural vocational schools have attended the CA training.

The Director General of IAARD, Dr. Ir. Muhammad Syakir welcomes the positive results of the project, and plans to promote the CA techniques to other areas in Indonesia.

“Based on the positive results of this project, we hope that Conservation Agriculture can be adopted and extended massively in Indonesia. We need a reliable strategy and mechanism to make sure the technology is able to reach the farmers and increases the farmers’ income, “ said Dr. Syakir.

Dr. Syakir added that in accelerating the process of institutionalization of Conservation Agriculture, a good cooperation between various institutions at the national level, as well as at provincial and district levels is needed.

Deputy chairman of Commission 4 Indonesia’s House of Representatives, Herman Khaeron who participated at the national consultation said Conservation Agriculture is promising to boost the farmers income, particularly for the farmers who work at the drought areas.

“I am optimistic, we can expand the Conservation Agriculture. It is not only able to put into action our commitment for the climate changes, but Conservation Agriculture techniques will sustain our agricultural resources, and improve the livelihoods of the farmers, “ said Herman.

Climate Change Risk Reduction

FAO’s vision is that climate change, extreme poverty and hunger must be addressed together. Sustainable agricultural practices are key to doing so. Agricultural activities that are resilient to climate change and result in the sustainable management of natural resources can deliver the transformative change that is urgently needed. Conservation agriculture aims to achieve sustainable and profitable agriculture and subsequently works towards improved livelihoods of farming families.

“FAO collaboration with the government of Indonesia, and with the farming communities, has been very successful through the introduction of CA techniques in NTB and NTT provinces. Not only have we helped to double corn yields on a great number of farms. we have also made the farming systems more resilient to climate change” said Mark Smulders, FAO Representative in Indonesia.

A survey that was conducted in February 2016 in some areas of NTB and NTT to assess the status of CA implementation, especially in the context of a delayed planting season and drought conditions due to El Niño conditions, showed that CA required less labour and better crop performance. As conservation agriculture encourages the use of cover crops, 78% of farmers confirmed that they rarely had weeds and weeding frequency was much reduced.

Under the El Niño conditions (delayed planting by about 2 – 3 months with erratic rainfall), Malaka District in NTT province was most affected and as much as 57% of respondents practicing traditional farming methods stated that their maize growth was not satisfactory and harvest failures were common. In contrast, only 15% of respondents practicing CA stated that their maize crop failed.

The FAO project will be concluded in July 2017, and close collaboration with the Government of Indonesia during the current growing season is crucial to ensure a smooth hand-over to the provincial extension services, to continue the introduction of CA techniques in other drought-prone areas.



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Source : http://www.fao.org/indonesia/news/detail-events/en/c/461105/