Despite a project’s closure, Sulawesi governments promise to encourage agroforestry
Government representatives in South and Southeast Sulawesi provinces in Indonesia have agreed to sustain the work of an integrated agroforestry–environment–governance project beyond its end.
Agroforestry and Forestry in Sulawesi: Linking Knowledge to Action (AgFor) is funded 2012–2016 by 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. Now entering its last year of implementation, the AgFor project held its last stakeholder meeting recently, focusing on its exit strategy in South and Southeast Sulawesi provinces, including handing over the project to the governments and local organizations.
More than 70 government representatives from village, sub-district, district and provincial levels of South and Southeast Sulawesi, local NGOs, media, farmers and others as well as AgFor team members were involved in discussions during the meeting, held in Makassar, 26 April 2016.
The meeting was divided into three sessions: 1) opening; 2) presentations of AgFor’s progress and work plan for the next eight months before its close in December 2016; and 3) group discussions.
The opening session was marked by speeches from Syamsu Alam, the head of district development planning board, Bantaeng, and James Roshetko, AgFor senior team leader.
Regarding the importance of agroforestry and forestry in social life, Alam stated in his opening speech that, ‘Agroforestry and forestry are related to many sectors: agriculture, fisheries, irrigation and livestock. If all of these sectors collaborate well, achieving the sustainable development goals is closer’.
Roshetko presented a general view of the project, plans for the exit strategy and also the purpose of the meeting: ‘Today, we are going to present to you the project’s achievements and discuss the activities of the next eight months until December 2016’, he said. ‘At the moment, your role as AgFor’s stakeholders is far more important than the team itself as the exit strategy should not come from AgFor.’
The second session featured nine presentations of AgFor’s components: four for each of the two provinces, covering agroforestry and forestry information; marketing and enterprise development; partnerships and land-use planning; and sustainable natural resource management. The ninth presentation was communications as the crosscutting sub-component of the project.
Idarwati of Southeast Sulawesi and A. Misbawati Wawo of South Sulawesi appreciated the knowledge sharing of the project team through training, workshops and farmers’ field schools and recommended the project team to share all publications to district libraries in addition to the provision of links.
Putri, representative of the district development planning board, Bulukumba, said, ‘We have been greatly helped by AgFor’s presence in our district, especially with the extensionists who reached farmers in isolated and remote areas. If AgFor could be extended, we would be happy to include it in our district medium-term development work plan’.
The third session started with testimonials from two farmers and six government representatives prior to group discussions. The first testimony came from Israk, a female farmer from Kayu Loe Village in Bantaeng, South Sulawesi; second was Wahyudin, a male farmer from Konawe, Southeast Sulawesi; third was Muhammad Akbar, representative of the extension and executive board of the agriculture, fisheries and forestry agency of Konawe, Southeast Sulawesi; and A. Misbawati Wawo, head of the forestry and crops department of Bulukumba. They were all satisfied with what AgFor had done in their areas. A very good collaboration had led to development of the communities who had improved their knowledge of land-use planning and agroforestry livelihoods.
In her testimony, Israk stated her gratitude for her improved economic condition after AgFor’s intervention, ‘I now have a joint cooperation with the Department of Agriculture and the State Agency for Research and Technology for high-quality seeds I am able to produce after a few training sessions with AgFor. Through the extension and executive board of agriculture, fisheries and forestry agency, I received money to produce taro seedlings, which will be purchased and developed by the government into an export commodity. Knowledge of agroforestry has proven to be really useful’.
Alfian from the district development planning board, Jeneponto, commented, ‘AgFor just came to our district in 2014 and it is highly appreciated. If AgFor can work longer, it would be helpful for us to learn how to establish protection forests in Bangkala sub-district. We plan to replicate AgFor’s activities in Ujungbulu Village in the southern part of the district by developing a working group trained by AgFor’.
After a final discussion, the meeting was closed with a statement from Hari Basuki, representative of Global Affairs Canada, who expressed his deep appreciation for the high level of participation of everyone who attended.
‘AgFor should function as a trigger to simply start the mechanism and build a new system’, he said. ‘With its restrictions and limited sources of budget and time, AgFor can’t and won’t stay forever. But we have the goodwill of the governments here to keep improving agroforestry-based incomes for smallholders. This is a very important thing to include in the provincial work plans. Furthermore, sharing knowledge will not stop once AgFor leaves Sulawesi because all publication materials are available online and can be downloaded at anytime for free from the ICRAF website’.
This work is supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry