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Case Study - Indonesia


Dialogues with Indonesian rice farmers involved in the FAO Community IPM program led IIED to choose Indonesia as a country case study.

In-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.

Indonesia 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.

The 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.


Visit the FIELD-Farmers Initiatives in Ecological
Literacy and Democracy web site
for more information.

 

 

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