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

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population 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.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid