Improving livelihoods

Indonesian communities in Flores are being taught new organic agricultural practices.
Indonesian communities in Flores are being taught new organic agricultural practices. This is helping them to develop sustainable livelihoods so they can lift themselves out of poverty.

Oxfam New Zealand is working with local partner JPA-Flores to support poor communities in Flores, an island in the Nusa Tenggara Timor province of Indonesia. JPA-Flores (also known as the Flores Fairtrade Network) works with farmers, traders and entrepreneurs through cooperatives, community groups and small businesses to enable local people to participate effectively and sustainably in the economy and lift them from poverty.

The rising price of basic necessities, inadequate sanitation and the effects of global climate change are having a devastating impact on the Flores community. In the first months of 2010, dengue fever affected 500 babies and killed six. A long drought and short rainy season have caused failure in harvest.

Helping communities

JPA-Flores provides a variety of services to the local people, including organisational development, market analysis, customer needs analysis and product development, the development of management systems and structures and the identification of gaps in technical capacity.

Their work also includes the development of business plans and finance for projects such as buffalo banks; seed saving methods in the drought prone areas of Flores; the development of the coffee processing plant to become the centre for Fairtrade coffee in Flores; and supporting women in traditional weaving methods.

Organic agricultural training centre

The new organic agricultural training centre in Maumere, Flores.
The new organic agricultural training centre in Maumere, Flores.

Since 2008, JPA-Flores has been working in partnership with Oxfam New Zealand to develop new organic agricultural training programmes and activities in Maumere, the largest town on Flores. JPA’s aim is to ‘waken, inspire and empower [the community] towards a better living condition, especially those who live in rural areas’.

A new organic agricultural training centre in Maumere is helping local communities learn new farming techniques and practices aimed at providing food security and a sustainable income. This will enable the community to grow new crops and to maximise post-yield production in an effort to support the environment and the local economy.

The centre will help raise funds for JPA so that the initiative can grow in scale and productivity. The project aims to develop organic farming and its supporting facilities as a medium for community education, staff training in organic farming, and to promote model gardens and post-harvest management. They key goal is to develop sustainable and environmentally sound agriculture practices for the community.

Demonstrating change

JPA has constructed a training centre on a newly acquired 3000m2 site, with a building, a model garden, demonstration organic agriculture plots, a 2200-litre water tower, electric power and a small house for two permanent staff members.

The centre has been operating since April 2009, with areas set up to demonstrate rice, fruit and vegetable production; waste and compost management; animal husbandry; pest control and post-harvest management. There is a greenhouse, seedling beds and tools to produce for virgin oil, which provide communities with applied models to assist with education.

The centre offers information about plants that can be used as fertiliser or natural pesticides. Training is given in soil management, rice farming with limited water, compost production, production of organic fruit and vegetables and recycling.

Since its inception, the centre has trained 87 women, farmers, school children and school leavers from the local area and distant villages.

Women and children are offered the skills to create home gardens for a sustainable livelihood.
Women and children are offered the skills to create home gardens for a sustainable livelihood. The produce is shared within the community.

Some of the benefits:

  • The wider community is trained to make use of their house yards by developing a home garden with organic vegetables, and to develop home industry such as virgin oil production, weaving and micro-finance management.
  • Children are taught to make compost, giving them practical knowledge on recycling used materials and organic agriculture.
  • Training materials have been produced and made available at the centre.
  • Organic fruit and vegetable have been promoted and seem to have found a market.
  • Cattle manure is scattered for the farm animals. People did not realise the value of their animals’ waste util JPA’s staff started collecting manure and turning it into compost as natural fertiliser. Some community members are now becoming interested to learn about organic fertiliser production.

Magepanda: home garden to hygienic latrine

A home garden project at Magepanda village, north-west of Maumere, has been undertaken by 26 families. Families are shown how to develop and maintain a small garden beside their home. The main objectives are to improve the nutrition of children under five and to promote the idea that sharing the produce from home gardens can help to reduce the reliance on outside products and can combat poverty.

The community went on to develop to an ‘arisan’ (rotated savings) and a rotated credit group. The project has helped several families to share the profits of their labour, and has increased the community’s awareness that nutritious food has to be complemented by the availability of a sanitary toilet and adequate water source. Several hygienic public latrines with washing areas have been installed in the village using community volunteers.
 

Bapak Paulus and Ibu Dasi

Bapak Hubertus Paulus, Ibu Ernesta Dasi and their two sons, Edus and Hendrik, had a very low income and were struggling to fulfil the family needs. When the planting season arrived, Bapak Paulus would spent most of his time in the garden, but when the harvesting season was over he would have to find an additional job. This still fails to meet the family’s needs. The house had no proper toilet and water was collected from the dug well.

But now the situation is improving: Ibu Nesta has started using the home garden, located at the side of the house, to produce vegetables watered from the well. She did it with the other housewives in the surrounding area, who also built the small home gardens. Vegetables for family consumption no longer have to be purchased from the market.

The home garden group has made Ibu Nesta realise that everybody can share anything. The family has recently been able to build a toilet and hygienic bathroom.

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