Helping communities be self-sufficient while minimising fire
Many farmers believe preparing land for cultivation without using fire requires a lot of money for heavy machinery. But through GAR’s Home Garden Project, we helped the Nanga Bian sub-village successfully cultivate garden plots to reduce household expenditure and increase income from selling the surplus produce. This was done in a low-tech, low-cost, environmentally-friendly way — without fire.
The Home Garden Project (Kebun Sayur Pekarangan or KSP) was started earlier this year in PT PIP in West Kalimantan after a Sustainable Livelihood Assessment conducted by the GAR CSR team. Community members who also worked on the palm oil estate were the main participants.
Demonstration plots using land provided by a group member were used to train the first group. The plots were located near water catchment areas and next to a road.
Group members took turns to work on the vegetable nursery after coming home from work at the oil palm plantation.
In addition to training, PT PIP also provided materials and equipment such as polynets, large barrels, plastic sheeting, jerry cans and large-sized watering cans and 15 kinds of vegetables seeds.
Polynet provides cover for the seedlings so they are shielded from direct sunlight and rain while reducing the rate of water evaporation from the surface. The large barrels act as containers for liquid compost. Meanwhile, plastic sheeting were used as a roof protecting the organic materials to be processed into solid composting from rain and sun light. Jerry and watering cans help collect and store domestic wastewater (such as water left from rice rinsing, fish washing and coconut milk) for watering the plants.
The group collected topsoil mixed with sandy soil and ash from oil palm fruit waste processing contributed by PT PIP’s mill for the growing media.
A wide range of vegetables were grown including water spinach, spinach, choy sum, leaf mustard, bak coy, purple eggplant and celery in raised seedbeds as well as cucumber, bitter melon, ridged luffa, green bean, snake bean and pumpkin.
The group were also trained on how to use micro-organisms that help in composting and other organic methods of farming such as using bio-pesticides and optimal planting and harvesting times.
Following the training, group members established their own garden plots in their backyards.
Other community members who had not participated initially began to show an interest. In the end, over 40 people took part in the project, up from the original 17.
The Home Garden Project demonstrates that no-burning cultivation methods are practical and can yield immediate benefits for the community. GAR will look into rolling out more programmes like these as part of its long-term efforts to tackle fire and haze.
This story was originally published on www.goldenagri.com.sg on November 11, 2016