Biloto Village in West Timor: Towards Food Security
Tuesday, October 16, 2012
West Timor, part of East Nusa Tenggara Province, is highly prone to natural disaster, especially drought. Severe prolonged drought has significantly dropped crop yield. A research shows that food availability at the household level was mostly relied on the harvest of one planting season during rainy season for the whole year. This has led to food insecurity at the household level and thus reduced food consumption, wearing down the nutrition and health status of its people. West Timor, especially Timor Tengah Selatan District, always had a very high number of undernourished children.
In end of 2010 CWS assisted the community in Biloto Village building a water reservoir - from where they can collect water, located closer to their home as opposed to a river that is 5 km away. This reservoir would take rain water and preserve it for the next several months of dry season. Not only this reservoir has helped the community to fulfill their need of water in both wet and dry season, but this has also led to another project that aims to improve the community's food production.
It is rice harvesting time for Tafena Kuan Farmers' Group. They have turned an idle land next to the water reservoir to grow organic produce, including rice. They use the water from the reservoir to irrigate their farm, even in the dry season. (Vinsent Surma/ CWS)
A farmers' group called Tafena Kuan was formed in the beginning of 2011. With the assistance from CWS, they piloted an organic farm using permaculture method, an ecological and environmental design for a more sustainable farming. A series of trainings on permaculture farming were held for the group's members. The trainings also covered System of Rice Intensification (SRI) method, horticulture, and organic fertilizer and pesticides.
Marten Oematan is one of members of Tafena Kuan famers' group. "Before joining the group I did not realize how important conserving nature and the environment is while farming," Marten admitted. "CWS gave us seeds, tool and most importantly trainings," he added. Marten now understands better that conserving nature and environment is as important as improving food production. "In addition to labor, the group also contributed seeds of local vegetable such as peanut."
Marten Oematan, a member of Tafena Kuan Farmers' group from Biloto Village. He and the other members of the group have been able to improve their family food supply and start up a business selling organic produces at their newly established kiosk. (Vinsent Surma/ CWS)
The pilot project has been very successful. The farmers are able to increase their food supply. Some of them have been selling some produce they harvested to neighbors. The method, which the farmers are using, allows them to avoid water and soil pollution through the use of organic pesticides and fertilizer. The farmers do not have to spend a lot of money to maintain the farm using permaculture method because they can use what the nature has provided. Being able to maintain the farm at low cost is important for them as they earn very low income.
Marten reported that he and the other group members have experienced much progress. "Our families now consume more nutritious foods. We have increased our food supply and made more money from selling the rest of the harvest," he said. "The money that I make from selling the produce we use for daily needs and to pay our children's school fee and their other needs," Marten added.
"In addition to trainings on permaculture, SRI, and organic farming, Tafena Kuan's members also attended trainings on chicken and fresh fish breeding as well as environment conservation that CWS held," said the 37-year-old father. CWS has given baby chicks to the group to start chicken breeding. "Recently the group has started breeding chicken and tilapia fish."
The group has also recently established a kiosk, which carries organic produces from their farm. The Tafena Kuan Farmers group dreams that the kiosk could sustainably provide staple food such as corn and rice as well as other nutritious food for the community. "The benefit of being a member of the group is that we can trade anything we have for products that the kiosk has. A non-member has to pay for the produce at the kiosk."
"We are determined to keep doing organic farming, chicken and fish breeding to ensure our family nutrition intake and to improve our income."
CWS will continue helping the people of Timor Tengah Selatan to improve their food production and their nutrition and health status by replicating the program in other areas of the district.