In Indonesia, the average production of palm oil fruit from plots owned by smallholders is only 60% of that managed by large companies.
Indonesian smallholder farmers do not have sufficient access to fertilisers and pesticides, use low quality seedlings and poor production practices. This combination leads to significantly lower yields amongst smallholder farmers, creating incentives for farmers to take additional plots into production to increase their incomes. Tree logging and deforestation are the result.
The Berbak Green Prosperity Partnership aims to improve palm oil smallholder yields and incomes, and halt deforestation at the same time. In the project, we target 10,000 palm oil smallholder farmers in the Muaro Jambi area (Sumatra). To improve incomes, we train farmers to increase their harvest using good agricultural practices. We work closely with the local farmer cooperative to implement our training programme.
Recently, SNV trained 17 farmers and extension officers to become trainers themselves: they in turn will provide training and mentoring on good agricultural practices to the farmers in their area.
During the training, the participants received specific tools and knowledge to increase their yield without encroaching on the surrounding forest: proper harvesting techniques, plantation assessment, fertilisation and pest management. The training modules and content were developed specifically to adjust pre-existing detrimental behaviour and practices, which farmers might have developed over time. The training is conducted by using active learning to increase the farmers’ knowledge retention, for example by conducting experiments, drawing posters, using flashcard, discussing case studies and practical activities to help farmers understand the core messages.
Mr. Sufyan is the secretary of the local village unit cooperative of Makarti located in Sidomukti village, Sungai Gelam Sub-district, Muaro Jambi Regency. He completed the five day training programme.
"I know much better now which practices to use to address some major problems in the production of palm oil fruit bunches faced by smallholders like me in the area. Poor planting material, potassium deficiency, waterlogging, incorrect harvesting practices and rat damage are some common problems."
"Our challenge as trainers is now to deliver the training effectively to the farmers in our area so that they can understand it and can apply what they learn on their own farms."