Harvest time has become something thrilling!
Farmers and governments on Sulawesi Island, Indonesia are celebrating all they have achieved in the five years of a Canadian-sponsored development project
The Agroforestry and Forestry in Sulawesi: Linking Knowledge to Action (AgFor) project is closing its doors after five years of intense and wide-ranging development in three of the six provinces on Sulawesi Island. Funded 2011–2016 by Global Affairs Canada and the CGIAR Research Program on Forests, Trees and Agroforestry, the project wrapped up with a series of information-sharing workshops and handover ceremonies in November 2016 in the provinces of Southeast Sulawesi (21–22nd), Gorontalo (24–25th) and South Sulawesi (28–29th).
‘The presence of AgFor in our district has raised understanding, improved knowledge and empowered the community so that they can be independent. Our farmers have gained knowledge and worked hard to achieve maximum results that they will enjoy for themselves’, said Tony Herbiansyah, head of Kolaka Timur District, Southeast Sulawesi Province.
‘I started to produce organic fertilizers for my cocoa trees earlier last year when AgFor came to our village and trained me and some other farmers’, said Naim Gales, a farmer from Asinua Jaya Village, Southeast Sulawesi Province. ‘Using organic fertilizers continues until now. I have also planted other commodities in agroforestry systems, such as coffee, pepper, cloves and nutmeg. Harvest time has become something thrilling! I have earned more money from my agroforests and I am optimistic I can pay my kids’ school fees up until they graduate’.
Besides sharing knowledge about creating superior plant breeding stock, management of mixed tree farms, pest and disease control, manufacture and application of compost, visits to other farmers to learn from them, and demonstration agroforestry plots, AgFor has also trained farmers in applying agroforestry techniques in the cultivation of agricultural crops and forestry. Such farm management generally combines several types of plants in one field, such as cocoa, pepper, durian, rambutan and other plants. The application of these types of systems has increased the production of some plantation crops that have differing harvest times, enabling farmers to spread their income over the year.
Israk Ramli, a farmer from Kayu Loe Village, South Sulawesi Province said that, ‘I used to be a housewife who stayed home the whole day and depended fully on my husband’s low income as a labourer. Now, I cooperate with the Department of Agriculture and the State Agency for Research and Technology to provide high-quality seedlings, which I learned how to produce during training with AgFor. And from the Executive Agency for Extension in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry I earn money by selling them taro seedlings that the government wants to be an export commodity. Knowledge about agroforestry has proven to be really useful’.
Ramli was speaking at a press conference in Bantaeng, South Sulawesi Province along with the Canadian ambassador to Indonesia Peter MacArthur, head of the Regional Development Planning Agency Syamsu Alam, AgFor senior team leader James M. Roshetko and AgFor coordinator South Sulawesi Pratiknyo Purnomosidhi.
MacArthur was in Bantaeng as part of his first official trip outside Jakarta since his inauguration last August.
‘Many things have been achieved by AgFor, particularly in increasing farmers’ income, improving participatory governance at village level and integrating sustainable management of landscapes and ecosystems. As the AgFor project comes to an end, I am delighted and honoured to be able to see the success first-hand and to celebrate that success here today.
‘Through our strong partnership with the Government of Indonesia, farmers of Sulawesi and the World Agroforestry Centre and partners, we have contributed to significant improvements in the livelihoods of more than 630,000 farmers in three provinces in Sulawesi and the sustainable management of 738,000 hectares of land’.
Alam explained that, ‘The Government has focused on agriculture as a key sector in its development plan 2015–2019. Efforts are being made to achieve food security and improve smallholders’ welfare. AgFor has provided a big contribution to achieving the district’s targets through improving smallholders’ livelihoods and promoting sustainable agriculture by training our farmers to be advisors to other farmers’.
Bantaeng District government realised during the course of the project that agroforestry and forestry were related to many sectors: agriculture, fisheries, domestic water supply, irrigation and livestock.
‘All of these sectors should collaborate well toward achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,’ said Alam. ‘The enactment of our district regulations on rewards for ecosystems systems was a start’.
Earlier this year, with the technical support of AgFor, Bantaeng became the first district in the province of South Sulawesi to create a regulation on ecosystem services.
Idarwati, the head of the Executive Agency for Extension in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry in Kolaka Timur District, Southeast Sulawesi said, ‘We have been greatly helped by AgFor’s presence in our district, especially with extensionists who have reached farmers in isolated and distant areas. If AgFor’s term could be extended, we would be happy to include it in our medium-term development work plan’.
In Gorontalo Province, the same was also heard. Nurdin, the head of a district Forestry and Crops Agency, said, ‘On behalf of Boalemo District government, we hope that AgFor can stay longer and continue their good job. But the most important thing now, of course, is that when this project is completed, the district government and community should be prepared so that the achievements will not be lost and be sustainable.
‘Before we participated in AgFor’, said Wahyudin Hasan, a farmer from Dulamayo Selatan Village, ‘farmers here were planting in many places: they kept moving around. Feels like a long time ago now. One of the impacts was the silting of Lake Limboto. And there were many landslides. AgFor came in such good time. We’ve been trained and helped, for example, in planting natural vegetative strips’.
AgFor’s Roshetko commented that, ‘The closing seminars have been exceptional. They provided opportunities to showcase the vast achievements of AgFor, including the commitment of farmers and government agencies to sustain activities after the project exits. In many cases, those commitments are being integrated into district work plans. Representatives of the governors’ offices of Southeast Sulawesi and Gorontalo provinces and offices of the heads of all ten districts attended the seminars and affirmed the positive impact of AgFor, particularly in enhancing farmers’ agroforestry incomes’.
This was confirmed in an impact study that showed that 630,000 farmers had improved their annual incomes 14% to 18% (≈ USD 222–445 at December 2016 rates) by adopting technologies promoted by AgFor.
‘AgFor is an outstanding example of how effective cooperation between farmers, local authorities, NGOs, researchers and the national government can achieve enormous results’, concluded Roshetko. ‘It is a model worthy of replication by other national and international research-in-development initiatives’.
ICRAF The World Agroforestry Centre is one of the 15 members of the CGIAR.
We would like to thank all donors who support research in development through their contributions to the CGIAR Fund.