News / Asia

Food Security Increases in Timor

Indonesian farmers' organization brings improvement in local food production and marketing

Farmers in Indonesa harvest maize.
Farmers in Indonesa harvest maize.
TEXT SIZE - +

As international agencies discuss how to increase access to food worldwide, a small group in Indonesia is already on the frontlines fighting hunger. Yayasan Mitra Tani Mandiri, or YMTM, is transforming the way farmers in some of the poorest communities of Timor plant and market their crops.

YMTM’s Sustainable Agriculture and Fair Marketing Initiative is paying off, turning more than 780 hectares of slash-and-burn fields to permanent agricultural plots.

Slash and burn farming in Timor, Indonesia (ANTARA).
Slash and burn farming in Timor, Indonesia (ANTARA).

The initiative began in the district of Timor Tengah Utara in 1996, when a group of seven young graduates from agriculture college returned to their home village with the determination to improve local farm production. It has since spread to 40 villages.

Timor Tengah Utara is in the north central part of Timor in Indonesia. It is a very dry area with only three to four rainy months per year.  Because of this, people struggled with a lack of food for four months out of the year.

To alleviate this situation, YMTM urged farmers to abandon the traditional “slash and burn” method of clearing land.  
Syalomi Natalia, the communications officer with the Australian aid program ANTARA, which supports YMTM, says slash and burn systems reduce the effectiveness of the soil and waste moisture.

VOA reporter Dave DeForest's report on YMTM's work:

“It isn’t very good for the environment," she said.  "The capacity of the farmers there to cope with the situation is very low,” she added

Protecting the environment is one of YMTM’s key goals.

Farmers are encouraged to build terraces and plant legumes in the soil. This helps guard against erosion, put vital nutrients back in the soil and help the soil retain moisture, which in turn, increases crop production and reduces food insecurity.

Farmers in Indonesia get better crop production and an improved environment with terrace farming
Farmers in Indonesia get better crop production and an improved environment with terrace farming

“We are working in a sloping area and then we just establish the terrace by using three legumes to establish the slopes so it means less of soil erosion and degradation,” says ANTARA’s Esnawan Budisantoso.

Maize is the staple food in Timor, and the group says its efforts have increased maize productivity by 38 percent. When the project started, local communities could count on just eight months of food security. That has increased to 11 months.

Besides this, the initiative includes a marketing plan that encourages farmers to sell their goods together, rather than independently. That unity has empowered growers in negotiations with buyers, boosting their revenues.

“Fair marketing system here means that we promote equal access of woman and man, improved bargaining power of farmers, promoting fair price and quality—fair quality—for both farmers and for traders as well,” explains Natalia.

The group says between 2007 and 2009, average household incomes went up 31 percent. And women are taking more prominent roles in business, even leading some of the local farmer’s organizations, something that is unusual for Indonesia.

People from surrounding areas have noticed the agricultural and marketing improvements in Timor Tengah Utara, and the international community has, too. YMTM is one of the winner’s of this year’s Equator Prize, an initiative by the U.N., governments, business and civil society that recognizes community efforts to reduce poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.



You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid