Kolaka Timur District moves to adopt agroforestry
A district government in Southeast Sulawesi Province, Indonesia plans to integrate agroforestry and associated methodologies into its medium-term development plan.
The Government of Kolaka Timur District in Southeast Sulawesi Province has embraced sustainable agriculture and agroforestry for smallholders by including support activities in the district work plan for the next five years. Such work plans are mandatory for local governments in Indonesia and guide financial and human-resource investment. The inclusion of agroforestry is a clear signal that the government highly values the work of the Agroforestry and Forestry in Sulawesi (AgFor) project, which has been assisting the government and farmers in the district for the last five years. AgFor is led by the World Agroforestry Centre, with support from Global Affairs Canada and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry.
‘In order to ensure food security and to participate in the free trade era [ASEAN Economic Community], the government has set targets specifically for agriculture’, said Andi Merya Nur, the head of Kolaka Timur District, at a meeting held 10 May 2016 in Tirawuta, the district capital, that was organised by the extension agency for agriculture, fisheries, plantations and forestry (the Indonesian acronym is BP4K). The meeting was attended by more than 60 participants, including representatives of AgFor and six different government agencies.
‘Kolaka Timur excels in agribusiness. That is why this meeting of collaboration is critical to producing a qualified and achievable work plan’, she said.
She stated that her intention was to see many aspects of AgFor’s work appear in the official district development work plan so that support to all agricultural extensionists could be improved. She emphasised the importance of building integrated work plans for agricultural centres to increase both production of commodities and smallholders’ incomes.
Idarwati, the head of BP4K, confirmed that ‘it is my responsibility to unify the focus of all the extension programs, especially the plantation, agriculture, forestry, food security, industry and trade offices. In addition to the government agencies, we decided to include AgFor in this meeting because we need to coordinate the sustainability of its achievements before it closes in December 2016’.
After explaining the challenges faced by BP4K, Idarwati stated that she had already included some important aspects of AgFor’s work in BP4K’s plans.
‘In order to improve the land-use planning in this district, we have adopted the system of demonstration plots for cultivation of commodity crops’, she said. ‘To improve the knowledge of our farmers, we will engage AgFor’s farmer-specialists to reach farmers in isolated villages in the district’.
‘Extension [agricultural advice] is very important for farmers’, said Mustakim, the head of the forestry and plantations office. ‘As a government representative, I am aware that our government often does not have the time and capacity to provide it. So these specialist farmers have been a great help for the government’.
Imran Tumora, coordinator of Teras, a local organization that had been operating in Southeast Sulawesi for many years and which was one of AgFor’s main partners in the province, said that, ‘The concept of agroforestry is not something new for the community in this district. However, the knowledge to implement it on farm needs to be improved and in this meeting we saw the government’s goodwill towards implementing sustainable agroforestry systems’.
Commenting on AgFor’s work on improving honey production and marketing, Samid, the head of the unions, industry and commerce office, said, ‘The most important output of a production process is marketing. Without it, all production efforts could be in vain and not provide any benefits. The very helpful facilitation work of AgFor in this regard obviously needs to be continued’.
‘At the time AgFor started, in 2011, farmers were experiencing many crops failures and their marketing faced many obstacles,’ said Mahrizal, AgFor coordinator for Southeast Sulawesi. ‘We worked with the local government and partnered with local organizations to help solve this situation. It has been one of AgFor’s main goals to support the government in improving the livelihoods of smallholders. It is a great achievement for us that our activities are being adopted by BP4K’.
AgFor has now entered its fifth year, its last. In the remaining time, the team will continue to support the government and smallholders. AgFor is funded by Global Affairs Canada and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry. After establishment in South and Southeast Sulawesi provinces, operations in Gorontalo Province began in early 2014. The AgFor team uses a livelihoods and conservation strategy to link research and local knowledge to action using participatory and inclusive principles.
This work is supported by the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry