Thursday, 23 May 2013

IN THE FIELD - Making a living from forests in Indonesia

(in-country visits by ACIAR’s research program managers)


In April, ACIAR’s Forestry Program manager, Mr Tony Bartlett, visited Indonesia to see first-hand the progress made from ACIAR teak-related research, and to help set up a new project. Tony met some local farmers in the Gunungkidul District of Yogyakarta Province who have been, and will be, involved in the agroforestry research...

ACIAR has supported research on teak agroforestry systems in the Gunungkidul District since 2007. A new forestry project will again work in this region, extending the research on enhancing people’s livelihoods through integrating the production of teak with the production of non-timber forest products. The aim is to enable the farmers to get a more regular source of income from these agroforestry systems.

The farmers in this region devote about 10% of their land to growing teak, often in parcels of less than 0.5 hectares, and teak contributes about 12% of their total household income. Much of the teak goes into producing furniture and carvings, contributing to a global industry valued at around AUD 130 billion.

man standing in forest
Pak Citro, teak forester extraordinaire
(photograph by Tony Bartlett)
I met with Pak Citro, of Sokoliman village in Gunungkidul District, who is one of the village elders. He began planting teak back in 1964 when he was 20 and working for the Forestry Department. He planted some seedlings around his house despite the fact that at that time it was illegal for farmers to cut any teak trees, even if they were growing on their own land. He and other villagers continued to plant teak because there had been so much deforestation that the local streams no longer had enough water to meet their household and farm needs. Over the years, he has used his teak trees to pay for the education of his seven children, and now at the age of 70 he sees his teak trees as his pension. In the past when he sold trees he used the money to buy more land to plant more teak. He has seven trees left standing from his 1964 plantings (50 year-old trees) and explained that he’s been offered Rp 27million ($3500) for two of these trees, but has not yet agreed to sell them. He said he was very happy to participate again in an ACIAR project. He had already learned a lot about how to improve the quality of his teak trees, from the thinning and pruning research of the previous ACIAR project—and improved quality means higher prices from log buyers.

Farmer harvesting garut from teak forest
(photograph by Tony Bartlett)
I also visited Karangasem village, where I met members of the Sedyo Lestari HKm Farmer Group and saw where they were growing a medicinal tuber (garut, or arrowroot) under 7-year-old teak. The plants are being grown on 37 hectares of community forest land, which they manage on behalf of the government and share the returns 60:40 (community:government). This village is led by a woman, Ibu Endang Sri Sumiartini, who is encouraging the women to work together as a community to process and market products like garut and local honey (manu). The garut tuber is traditionally used to cure diarrhoea and eczema as well as to lower fevers and stimulate breast milk. This community has also established a small sawmill and furniture-making business, where they process timber from their own land, and from the community forest when they can.

The new ACIAR project will work with these locals and others, to see how integrating the production of teak and non-timber forest products can be improved. It will include activities related to strengthening farmer-run small businesses that are processing and marketing non-timber forest products.

Tony (right) with stakeholders at the new project’s inception meeting in Yogyakarta
(photograph by Tony Bartlett)

Further information: ACIAR project FST/2012/039 Development of timber and non-timber forest products production systems for improvements of smallholders’ livelihoods in Indonesia

(Written by Tony Bartlett, ACIAR’s Forestry Research Program Manager)


1 comment:

  1. Hi ACIAR,

    This is a great list! Definitely something I'll be using for a long time. Thanks so much for taking the time to put this all together.

    Angela West


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