Indonesia: Organic Farming and Renewable Energy

By Simon Suban Tukan SVD

Climate change refers to significant changes in global temperature, precipitation, wind patterns, and other measures of climate that occur over several decades or longer. The potential effects of global climate change include more frequent wildfires, longer periods of drought in some regions, and an increase in the number, duration, and intensity of tropical storms.

  1. Local effect of Climate Change

In three consecutive years, the East Nusa Tenggara Province in Indonesia and the Manggarai Regency, in particular, experienced natural disasters that caused damage to the earth and all creatures, including humans.

In 2019, we experienced flash floods, landslides, and rising sea levels (robe). The disaster has caused the death of (3) people and has damaged much property of the affected. It also has cut off the road access in several places and damaged the landscapes of Flores and Manggarai, in particular, which has taken more than two years to recover.

In April 2021, most areas of East Nusa Tenggara Province, including Flores and Manggarai, were hit by the natural disaster of the Seroja Tropical cyclone. The tragedy caused damage to the earth and befell all beings. As many as 137 people died, more than 8,424 people were directly affected and became refugees throughout the province, and property loss reached trillions of rupiah.

Seroja tropical cyclone hit the Indonesian East Nusa Tenggara Province in April 2021

There must be concrete efforts that make the earth a decent place to live for all creatures and support the sustainability of the availability of living resources. The actions do not have to be large and global, but mainly small and local initiatives that contextually contribute to restoring the damage of earth and making the earth a sustainable place to live and provide sustainable living resources. These small and local initiatives are nothing but efforts to respond to the cry of the earth, which its echo is now getting stronger due to various disasters that have exacerbated the damage.

In addressing climate change, the SVD JPIC of Ruteng Province promotes organic farming and renewable energy to the local farmers in Manggarai Flores.

  1. Organic Farming: Alternative Innovations from Local Initiatives

The Green Revolution in Agriculture that has taken place since the 1970s has contributed to increasing the damage of mother earth and its impact on Agriculture and human life. The green revolution by the primary campaign of agriculture productivity improvement and genetic engineering has ignored environmentally friendly and sustainable farming patterns. The campaign of agriculture productivity improvement and genetic engineering has increased the excessive use of factory fertilizers with all negative impacts, both on the soil (soil becomes dense, microorganisms die, lowers soil fertility) as well as on humans (the emergence of various diseases that cause a decline in human health and reduce the healthy level and also reduce the initiative and creativity to develop more sustainable and environmentally friendly agriculture).

The efforts that were initially intended to increase the productivity of agriculture have instead led to dependence on artificial factory fertilizers that leave a large amount of residue.  It hinders the working system of soil microorganisms, which increases soil density and reduces soil fertility. Then, reduced agricultural productivity causes widespread hunger and increases poverty in the long term.

Organic farming: Go Green, Go Clean and Go Organic

Responding to the cry of mother earth, we have tried to change farmers’ minds in rural Manggarai-Flores to develop an environmentally friendly and sustainable agricultural model during the last ten years. We organize farmers in assisted groups and build mutual awareness about environmentally friendly and sustainable farming methods.

We have campaigned for the negative impacts of the Green Revolution, including a campaign to stop using factory fertilizers and back to organic fertilizers, which are more environmentally friendly. First of all, we trained the farmers of group members to make bokashi solid fertilizer from local materials around them. We have been developing liquid organic fertilizer and solid organic fertilizer by livestock waste management. We build a biodigester (livestock toilet) to treat livestock waste. This biodigester is created by using local materials which are readily available and inexpensive. And through aerobe mechanization, this biodigester produces the liquid bio-slurry and solid bio-slurry, which then by a fermentation process makes liquid organic fertilizer and solid organic fertilizer containing nutrients needed by plants.

Besides, these fertilizers can protect plants from various diseases and pests. Biodigester itself is a model of appropriate and environmentally friendly technology and a kind of renewable energy technology that can produce biogas and electricity needed for kitchen on a small-scale because aerobe mechanization in the biodigester also has methane gas which can be used as biogas for kitchen needs

Since 2018, we have produced a minimum of 6000 liters of liquid fertilizer a year and 7300 kg of solid fertilizer. All of it was used up, not only for our own needs but also sold to the community, especially to the assisted farmers and their neighbors, at affordable prices. These fertilizers have been introduced under the brand names: POC 3G for liquid organic fertilizers and POP 3G for solid fertilizers.

So far, these fertilizers have been applied to horticultural agriculture to produce organic vegetables and to food crops in fields and paddy fields. But several farmers also testify that this fertilizer can be used on long-term crops (coffee, cocoa, and coconut). The user testified that using this POC 3G, their plants were more fertile, not attacked by pests and diseases, and had more abundant yields. On food crops, the plants looked sturdier, and the yields were more abundant and of better quality. Likewise, for the long term of plants: coconuts bear fruit more densely and large and cocoa too.

Using organic fertilizers of manure produced from livestock waste is a model of environmentally friendly and sustainable farming, a model of organic farming that is more sustainable.

  1. Organic farming supported by renewable energy

Besides developing organic fertilizers, we also use several more environmentally friendly and appropriate technology models by using renewable energy. The selection and use of technology help develop the organic farming we campaign for.

In the manufacture of organic fertilizers, we use a biodigester used to process livestock into organic fertilizer and process livestock waste into alternative energy, biogas, for a household scale that is environmentally friendly and sustainable.

We also use other technologies, e.g., Barsha Pump, to support organic farming. Barsha pumps use water energy to pump water from the river to the land for watering the plants. Using this hydropower pump, our assisted farmers can take advantage of rivers that flow throughout the year around their farmland and plant in the dry season. Barsha pump technology, a hydropower pump, has helped our farmers. If their land on the banks of the river was only used as livestock grazing land in previous years, since 2018, it has turned into very productive farming land for horticultural and food crops. If our farmers only planted in the rainy season in previous years, since 2018, our farmers have been able to plant in the dry season just as productively in the rainy season, even more, productive because there is no danger of flooding or storms damaging their crops.

Using Barsha pump technology helps local farmers to increase their generating income                               and is friendly-environmentally sound

Water has become a new renewable energy that keeps our farmers producing in the dry season. In addition to water and biogas, we are also thinking of Solar as alternative energy to help farmers pump water in lower places to agricultural land above it.

We introduce organic farming, which is supported by using the technology based on renewable energy, with the motto of 3G Agriculture: Go Green, Go Clean, and Go Organic (Green Agriculture, Clean Agriculture, and Organic Agriculture).

Developing organic farming and using technology based on renewable energy is our response to the cry of mother earth. We have committed to saving mother earth from various activities that exacerbate its damage. Organic farming and renewable energy are our commitment to make the mother earth more habitable and to support sustainable living. These are small and local, innovative initiatives that we can contribute to counteracting the negative impacts of various changes, mainly climate change, which are increasingly unpredictable today.