APP's Fire Prevention Program Introduces Farmers to Better Use of Land i

Prior to joining Asia Pulp & Paper's community fire prevention program, Lidat, 47, was a poor farmer from Mengkiang, a village in Sangau district of West Kalimantan. (Photo courtesy of Finnantara Intiga)

By : Jakarta Globe | on 10:07 PM July 26, 2017
Category : uncategorized, Special Updates

Prior to joining Asia Pulp & Paper's community fire prevention program, Lidat, 47, was a poor farmer from Mengkiang, a village in Sangau district of West Kalimantan, who practiced slash-and-burn agriculture.

He was not aware that what he did contributed to billions of dollars worth of damages and losses, especially in 2015, when wildfires destroyed vegetation on millions of hectares and afflicted more than half a million people with health problems.

At the end of last year, Lidat joined APP's program, "Prosperous Villages Fight Fire," or DMPA, which introduces farming techniques that oppose land burning. APP is a pulp and paper arm of Sinar Mas Group.

According to Syamsul Fikar, social and security department head of Finnantara Intiga (APP's wood supplier that assists in the program), DMPA promotes the use of hand tractors in making planting lines.

"The company provided land, equipment and agricultural knowledge to farmers to support their productivity," Syamsul said, adding that training sessions on safety also took place.

APP launched DMPA in Mengkiang at the end of 2016. The village has a long history of causing wildfires.

Lidat said that just a few months later he had a good harvest, which made him believe that the new farming method was better than slash-and-burn agriculture.

His production costs also decreased as the equipment came from APP.

Earlier, he had to spend more than Rp 2 million ($150) for workers to plow his paddies. With hand tractors, he now spends only Rp 400,000. "It is much cheaper," he said, adding that productivity has also significantly increased, with his recent harvest reaching 7.8 tons of rice, compared with 4.5 million tons before.

Lidat now helps to coordinate a group 25 farmers in his village to implement the program.

"They became interested after seeing me carrying lots of rice bags," he said.

However, not all residents wanted to switch to the environment-friendly method of farming. "Especially the elderly. They said they have inherited the old ways from their ancestors," Lidat said.

Daniel from Sungai Langer also shared his experience regarding the program. He sows different crops in different seasons, including corn, rice and various types of vegetables.

"The income is good enough to satisfy the daily needs. We do not depend on one type of crops only," he said.

By 2020, APP is planning to include 500 villages in the program.

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