TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has introduced a new planting system to the farmers in Timor Island, East Nusa Tenggara, to improve production and economy. "We changed the system from the slash and burn that they often did here to the conservation agriculture system," said the FAO Project Manager, Ujang Suparman, to Tempo.
According to Ujang, the system now uses three methods, creating a hole on the ground, plotting, and tilling the soil. The farmers are trained to create 30 centimeters hole on the ground and fertilize it with compost before they plant the corn. They also learned to cultivate the land in terraced system and till the soil.
"We develop this planting system in six regencies in East Nusa Tenggara," Ujang said. The regencies include West Sumba, East Sumba, Southwest Sumba dan Central Sumba, as well as two regencies in Timor, the Central East Timor and Malaka regencies.
Ujang said that the introduction of this system was to prevent the farmers from damaging the environment by burning the forest. The farmers are also required to plant legumes alongside corn.
The FAO has received positive feedback from the farmers because production has increased. Antonius Aguiros, one of the corn farmers, said that he could not only consume the harvest, but also sell it in the market. "We sell the corn to the market, Rp 5,000 per kilogram," Antonius said.
Antonius leads the farmers' group, Alexlalan. The members of the group own a total of 13 hectares of land which can now yield three tons of corn in one season. Doubled what they used to produce with the slash and burn system.