Training in vegetative propagation high on Sulawesi farmers’ wishlist

The extension service that farmers in South and Southeast Sulawesi feel they are most in need of is training in vegetative propagation. Other services high on the farmers’ lists were pest and disease management, and the  production of organic fertilizer. This emerged in a needs assessment, conducted by World Agroforestry Centre scientists, prior to implementation of the Agfor Project in Sulawesi, Indonesia.

The AgFor project, short for ‘Agroforestry and Forestry in Sulawesi: Linking Knowledge with Action’, funded by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and implemented by the World Agroforestry Centre and partners from 2011 to 2016, aims to enhance equitable and sustainable agroforestry and forestry livelihood systems for rural communities in three provinces in Sulawesi. Farmer-based agroforestry extension approaches will be implemented to increase the productivity and profitability of tree-based systems, and encourage farmers to make the most of market opportunities.

An needs assessment was conducted prior to implementation of the project, collecting information on types of priority species in local livelihoods, existing and potential extension activities, demonstration plots, cross-visit  programmes, needs for marketing training, gender preferences regarding extension programmes, and the potential media communications used in extension activities. The assessment was carried out from March to April 2012, in four project districts—two districts in South Sulawesi (Bantaeng and Bulukumba) and two districts in Southeast Sulawesi (Konawe and Kolaka). Results were used for design and implementation of extension activities in the AgFor project.

As part of the survey, discussions were held with extension agents at the district level. In each district, current challenges and opportunities for extension activities were discussed with stakeholders at the Forestry and Estate Crop Agency, the Agricultural Agency, the Food Security and Extension Agency, South Sulawesi and the  agricultural, Livestock and Forestry Extension Agency, in Southeast Sulawesi. In South Sulawesi, from 13 project villages, eight villages were sampled for the survey and categorized according to land-use: degraded land group; agroforestry-based group and the timber-based village group. In Southeast Sulawesi from 14 project villages, nine villages were sampled and grouped into four, based on the proportion of the local migrant community in the village: local villages; mixed local and long-established migrant/transmigrant villages; transmigrant and long-established migrant villages; and new transmigrant villages.

In Indonesia, agricultural extension agents are responsible for linking farmers to information and technology, and translating research results into reality on the ground. Good coordination between extension agents and research agencies is essential, but lacking. Moreover, government agricultural extension agencies are currently struggling with a shortage, not just of extension officers, but also of technical capacity and facilities.

The survey showed that different communities prioritized different crops, depending on levels of education and income, ethnicity, infrastructure, marketing potential and access to information. Training on vegetative propagation was the most requested extension service by farmers in both provinces, followed by pest and disease management and production of organic fertilizer. Besides crops, in both provinces, farmers also wanted to learn more about livestock management, as livestock have a significant role in livelihoods in both provinces.

There were gender implications, too. The study found that men allocate more time for plot management activities—plot establishment, planting, maintenance and harvesting, indicating the areas in which their capacity and skills need to be improved. Meanwhile, women have roles in plot maintenance, harvesting,
post-harvest management, and product marketing, so likewise their capacity and skills need to be improved in these activities.

As far as media preferences were concerned, some farmers ranked television highest, while others opted for magazines, CD/DVD, or radio as the most effective communication medium. In South Sulawesi, all villages ranked television as the most effective communication medium for agricultural extension. However, currently the frequency of agricultural extension programmes broadcast on television is decreasing. Thus, CD or DVD could be potential alternatives if produced and distributed regularly to farmers. Cell phones have good potential for providing updates on agricultural commodity prices.

Most communities surveyed tended to expect some improvements in the extension services they currently receive. It is expected that, through the AgFor project, communities will receive improved agricultural extension services through the introduction of knowledge/technology that can improve crop productivity, and regular practical or technical assistance to enhance their livelihoods.

Read the full World Agroforestry Centre Working Paper here. Authored by Endri Martini, Jusupta Tarigan, Pratiknyo Purnomosidhi, Andi Prahmono, Mulus Surgana, Anang Setiawan, Megawati, Elok Mulyoutami, Badri Dwi Meldy, Syamsidar, Rahma Talui, Janudianto, Suyanto and James M. Roshetko.'

Rebecca Selvarajah

Rebecca is a science writer, manager of publishing projects, trainer in science writing, and novelist — working partly from Nairobi, Kenya and partly from Morwell, Australia. With over 15 years of experience in writing, advertising/marketing, publishing and social media, she takes on varied assignments, travelling, if needed, to conduct relevant research and interviews. Originally from Sri Lanka, Rebecca holds a BA honours in Psychology, with minors in Gender Studies and Sociology. Email Rebecca on

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