Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Agroforestry project impacting local farmers in Eastern Indonesia


Many farmers in Indonesia have either adopted high-value timber-based agroforestry systems or are involved in the collection and sale of non-timber products, often from remnant forest areas. While the agroforestry systems provide many benefits to the farmers, such as the ability to generate cash when they have large expenses, the trees take a number of years to reach a saleable size and these systems do not provide regular sources of income that farmers need. 

To address this important issue, ACIAR is funding the four-year “Kanoppi” agroforestry project in Eastern Indonesia which is conducting research to foster integration of timber and non-timber forest products in agroforestry systems and improve smallholders capacity to market high value products from these systems. The project is managed by the World Agroforestry Centre’s regional office in Bogor and involves collaboration with a with many Indonesian research and development partners, as well as with scientists from the University of Western Australia. The project also has two NGO collaborators, Threads of Life and World Wildlife Fund.

The landscape near Pelat on Sumbawa. Photo: Tony Bartlett, ACIAR
The project is in its final year and recently held its annual workshop in Sumbawa in West Nusa Tenggara. This provided an opportunity to see some of the benefits that are already flowing to local farmers from this research.

The project is implementing participatory agroforestry trials with farmers in a number of villages in the hinterland of Sumbawa. In the village of Pelat, some participatory trials have been established within Pak Muis bin Hamid’s six year old teak plantation which is located on sloping land. The researchers have worked with the farmer to implement nine different silvicultural treatments, such as thinning and pruning the teak, and measure both the response of the teak trees and the yields from the non-timber products, such as ginger grown under the teak. The farmer, Pak Muis, has used some of the teak trees that were cut from his plantation to produce local furniture. He indicated that he was very happy with the support he is getting from the Kanoppi project and sees the integrated agroforestry system as the best way to increase his family’s livelihood. In NTB, markets for teak are more limited than in Java. During farmer field schools, the project farmers were linked with UD Makassar Utama, a local wood processor that exports timber to furniture manufacturers in Java. 

Teak-ginger trial at Pelat. Photo: Tony Bartlett, ACIAR

Pak Muis with the teak table he made. Photo: Tony Bartlett, ACIAR
At the nearby hamlet of Brang Pelat, the project team has helped the community to develop a community enterprise based on local honey production from stingless bees (Trigona spp). The villagers have previously collected wild honey from the forest, but in the past year they have established 600 bee hives in the village and begun selling honey in Sumbawa and Lombok. The community has received training from the project in bee keeping and business management. The chairman of the community cooperative, Pak Juraidin, told us that they have generated IDR 26 million in revenue from honey sales in the past year and these funds are shared between the 120 households that belong to the cooperative.

Trigona bee hives at Pelat village. Photo: Tony Bartlett, ACIAR
Discussing honey sales with Pak Juraidin. Photo: Tony Bartlett, ACIAR
At Batudulung, each year between December and March the villagers collect candlenut (kemiri), the fruit from Aleurites moluccana, planted on their farms and from the surrounding forest. The project is helping to improve the quality of the nut processing, assisting with access to new markets in Lombok and Bali and exploring other value adding processes, such as the production of kemiri oil using a cold press technology appropriate to village-level production. The kemiri oil could be used in the cosmetics industry and the project team has commenced consultations with the Martha Tilaar Group in Indonesia in an effort to increase markets for value added non timber forest products.
Candlenut drying in the sun. Photo: Tony Bartlett, ACIAR
The development of value-added products from candlenut has the potential to assist with empowerment of the women at Batudulung. They are responsible for drying and cracking the kemiri nuts, for which they currently use a very labour intensive method. Besides being hard physical work, the high cost of cracking the nuts limits the financial viability of this enterprise, particularly later in the season when the price of cracked nuts falls. Ibu Harnani, who operates a nut processing facility and sales point in Batudulung, indicated that candlenuts are an important source of income for the village but the cracking process is very hard work for the women. Following the field visit we are exploring opportunities to introduce a low cost nut cracking machines that were developed for the ACIAR Canarium nut project in Papua New Guinea. This could ease the burden on women, increase the productivity of nut cracking and hence the profitability of these enterprises.
Ibu Harnani hand cracking candlenuts. Photo: Tony Bartlett, ACIAR

By Tony Bartlett, Forestry Research Program Manager, ACIAR

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