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.

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

Guatemala Mudslide Death Toll Rises to 86

Death toll is expected to continue to rise as emergency crews dig through tons of earth for an estimated 350 people still missing More

Debris Found in Search for Missing Ship

Objects located Sunday have not yet been confirmed to be from the 240 meter container ship, El Faro, which disappeared in the eye of Hurricane Joaquin, according to US Coast Guard More

Survivor: Gunman Spared 'Lucky One' to Give Police Message

Law enforcement official says a manifesto of several pages was recovered; contents not revealed More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs