March 10, 2017
PULAU PADANG – Munip harvests red chili with a wide smile on his face, he fills his small bucket with chili’s. This first harvest might not be large as it is still early in the growth cycle, but it has a big impact for the “Family Blessings” farmer group.
As a member of the “Family Blessings” farmers group in Lukit village, Merbau sub-district, Meranti District, Riau Province, Munip receives help and guidance from Riau Ecosystem Riau (RER) and Laskar Alam Riau through their Horticulture Demonstration Plot (DemPlot) Program. This joint collaboration provides technical advice and equipment/supplies such as watering machines, seeds, fertilizers and pesticides to each of the farmers in the group. The DemPlot Program aims to improve the community economy by encouraging self-sustaining economic opportunities while also serving as a model for “no-burn” agriculture. In addition to the farmer group in Lukit Village, the DemPlot Program will be implemented with additional farmer groups in three different villages including Kudap, Selat Akar, and Bandul Villages on Pulau Padang. Each farmers group consists of 8-12 people.
Munip who also teaches at Aliyah Religious School was pleased with the progress of the DemPlot Program initiated by Laskar Alam Riau in November 2016. The Lukit Village farmers manually prepared plots measuring 25m2 and planted them with red chili, cayenne and tomato. These vegetables are staple items for the community, are highly compatibility with the acidic peat peat soil, and demand a high market price.
“I am very pleased to see the results of this first harvest, we would like to thank RER and Laskar Alam Riau who have assisted us in providing solutions to host of different farming problems. We are optimistic that by the last harvest on March, we can reach 750Kg of red chili, 400kg of cayenne, and 51Kg of tomatoes. After the harvest in completed, we plan to increase the DemPlot up to one hectarearea in order to grow 2000 cayenne plants and gain greater profits”, said Munip.
The vegetables will be sold by the farmer groups to an agent, and then distributed to markets in the Kepulauan Meranti District. If no significant pest problems arise and the price of chili remains stable, they predict a combined total of Rp. 90,000,000 after the last harvest.
Formed on August 7th 2015, Laskar Alam is a foundation involved in various social, religious and humanitarian issues, with over 60 members spread across several villages in Pulau Padang, Kepulauan Meranti District. Laskar Alam is lead by Abdul Mukhti who originates from the Kepulauan Meranti District. Riau Ecosystem Restoration (RER) formed the partnership with Laskar Alam in early 2016 with the Horticulture Demonstration Plot Program serving as the first joint program between the two organizations.
“Thank you to RER for their support of the Horticultural DemPlot Program as a learning tool for the community to demonstrate “no-burn” agriculture. This program can serve as a source of additional income and I expect that with time, the farmer groups in each village will become self-sufficient and develop these agricultural activities on a larger scale. Assistance for farmers from RER and Laskar Alam Riau will continue in order to achieve optimal yields”, said Abdul from the sidelines of the harvest.