Dialogues with Indonesian rice farmers involved in the FAO
Community IPM program led IIED to choose Indonesia as a country
dialogues have shaped the research agenda in Indonesia. A
coordinating research team has been identified and some planning
is under way. The FAO programme responsible for supporting
the Community IPM program will be closing down, to be replaced
by a foundation named FIELD-Farmers Initiatives in Ecological
Literacy and Democracy. Professional staff (ex-FAO) will be
retained and provide ongoing technical support for community
IPM and agricultural biodiversity management in Indonesia.
It is intended that the IIED action research on “Sustaining
local food systems, agricultural biodiversity and livelihoods”
will form a part of the new FIELD Foundation’s programme
of collaborative work over the next 4 to 5 years.
has been particularly innovative in pioneering an approach
to farmer training, the Farmer Field School (FFS) - a countrywide
training program to help farmers apply the principles of Integrated
Pest Management (IPM) in rice production. A FFS offers crop
season-long training to groups of about 25 farmers based on
discovery learning in which the field is the most important
site of learning. The FFS works to strengthen farmers' capacity
to observe, measure, analyse plant-pest-predator dynamics,
understand agro-ecological dynamics as a basis for management
decisions and to conduct their own systematic experiments.
The drive to reduce the use of dangerous pesticides, combined
with adult education, farmers' central role in innovation
and technology development and local organisation and institutional
development are all helping to spread this approach to more
people and places. There are close to 1 million farmers involved
in community IPM in Indonesia.
use of functional biodiversity (predators and parasites) to
control rice pests is a key feature of this large scale program.
Dialogues with farmers and their federations have also suggested
that local livelihoods and the environment can further benefit
if other types of useful biodiversity were reintroduced into
rice agro-ecosystems. Farmers for example seek to expand the
genetic base of rice crops through participatory plant breeding
and the deployment of genetic mixtures to buffer against biotic
and abiotic stresses. Helping farmers reduce their dependence
on chemical fertilisers hinges on learning how to nurture
a diversity of micro-organisms and invertebrates essential
for a healthy soil ecology. There are also questions raised
about the possible benefits and problems associated with the
introduction of transgenic rice. Last, federations of farmers
who graduated from FFS ask for help in analysing the impacts
of new national and international policy developments on the
biodiversity of rice fields, local livelihoods and food security.
Following meetings held with representatives of the IPM Farmer
Federation at the end of February 2002, it was agreed that
these,- and other issues-, will be further discussed by farmer
groups in order to assess the relevance and possible priorities
of collaborative action research in Indonesia.
Initiatives in Ecological
Literacy and Democracy web site for more information.