IDEP Foundation

Nengah Sudiasa Creates an Oasis in the heat of Sumberklampok

Sweat was pouring down, and foreheads continued to wrinkle as we walked through the village of Sumberklampok. Even though the time was 08.00 AM, the heat and scorching sun had been stinging since it appeared on the eastern horizon. The bright sunlight also enveloped Singaraja-Gilimanuk street. But we can still find shade when we enter the natural gate that is so beautiful belonging to Nengah Sudiasa.

The gate to Nengah Sudiasa's garden, February 25, 2022 (Photo: Gusti Diah)

The gate was filled with Madeira vine, and its flower was blooming. Even butterflies are milling about in between. Sudiasa’s gardens are so varied. Moreover, he uses local materials to beautify his garden. “Here [Sumberklampok] is only half a meter deep, and the rest is coral, so I use stones as beds,” said Sudiasa as he led us to his gazebo under a shady mango tree.

Initially, the rocks in Sudiasa’s yard were obstacles that prevented him from growing crops at home, even though he had skills as a farmer. However, when he attended training in permaculture and family gardens (KPK), Sudiasa just realized that this abundant coral rock has its potential. “Before there was training, I didn’t think about using the coral rocks here,” said the farmer who has participated in the transmigration program before.

Sudiasa can also address the condition of the land dominated by coral rocks. With farmers and a companion team from IDEP, Sudiasa made the beds in several stages. He also explained what components need to be included, namely: banana midrib, fresh leaves, cow dung, then covered with soil and mulch. “Although there are a lot of coral rocks here, because of natural ingredients here, the soil can be more fertile,” added Sudiasa.

Nengah Sudiasa in his garden (Foto: Eka Dharma)

The bed, emphasized by coral rocks, is filled with various types of plants such as chili, aromatic ginger, galangal, ginger, eggplant, tomato, green grass, mango, stigi, and many more. All the plants in Sudiasa’s garden thrive, and even then, they are not obtained directly. Initially, the plants were stunted, and the leaves turned yellow. But Sudiasa found the problem and was able to overcome it. “After receiving training to make POC [liquid organic fertilizer], I immediately practiced at home. After that, new plants grow well,” said Sudiasa proudly.

POC is still protected from the sun because it is placed right under the mango tree’s shade. The efforts that Sudiasa has put in place at his home have solved several problems that were initially unthinkable for him. From this success, Sudiasa plans to apply it in his production gardens.

Currently, Sudiasa’s production garden is filled with various legumes such as squat beans, red beans, Hyacinth bean, pigeon pea, and corn, and then there are sub-canopy crops such as bananas and bamboo. This production garden also lacks chemicals because Sudiasa doesn’t need them. “I’ve never sprayed [pesticides] because I don’t need that for my corn or beans, so I cost little capital,” said Sudiasa. He added that his garden still uses chemical fertilizers because his memory has been separated from more organic forms.

Trying To Get Rid Of The Green Revolution

Since the late 1960s, the New Order government-issued agricultural policies were considered more “modern”, namely the green revolution. This policy also encourages farmers to use chemical agriculture materials such as urea, pesticides, herbicides, and GMO (genetic engineering) seeds. Gradually, farmers began to switch to chemical agriculture and forgot the more environmentally friendly agriculture concept for the next generations.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is also very vigorous in carrying out the Green Revolution worldwide. The agency formed by the United Nations also encourages farmers to plant certain commodities, such as rice and wheat. This policy does increase food production but has a terrible impact on soil health and the sustainability of agriculture itself.

The habits born of the Green Revolution are deeply rooted in farmers in Indonesia, including Nengah Sudiasa and other farmers in Sumberklampok. They participated in the New Order government’s transmigration program in 1984-1985. After the community received agricultural training in Yogyakarta, they were sent to East Timor. However, after a referendum in 1999, East Timor separated from Indonesia and became independent as Timor Leste. Balinese communities who transmigrated were brought back home. The government placed them in Sumberklampok.

Sudiasa applied the POC that he made himself (Photo: Eka Dharma)

For years, Nengah Sudiasa has been trapped in a chemical farming system that forces him to depend on the market. However, when he was brought back to environmentally friendly forms of agriculture, Sudiasa became convinced that his garden could be cultivated in a more sustainable system. He also felt that the permaculture principles were appropriate for him to apply. “I want to try in small scale first, in my home garden, next I want to apply it in large scale for my tegal [production garden], which is used on a drum. Little by little, it will change from agrochemical to a more sustainable system,” explained Sudiasa.

Facing Climate Change

Sudiasa also faced various challenges when switching to a more eco-friendly agriculture system. Even when he was still implementing conventional farming, he still encountered problems. “Water is always a problem here, and there is no rain during the dry season, and PAM water also doesn’t reach houses and gardens. Even though there are many needs such as cooking, bathing, livestock, and gardening,” said Sudiasa.

When entering the month of August, usually PAM water does not flow, Sudiasa also does not have sufficient shelter to meet his needs. Moreover, Sudiasa admits that the recent dry season is longer than usual and sometimes erratic. This problem can also be seen from the condition of the Sumberklampok community’s springs, which experience a decrease in discharge when entering the dry season. This spring is located in the middle of the forest with thick trees. Sudiasa said that the area is still beautiful because of the Lesung Temple adjacent to the spring. The presence of these temples and springs makes residents work hand in hand to maintain the preservation of the surrounding ecosystem. But what about the forest conditions outside the area? This results in a decrease in water flow in their only source of livelihood.

Several times Sudiasa saw someone taking wood from the forest. But he did not dare to prevent it because he did not know how they could enter the forest area. “We do not have the authority to prohibit, and there is already a Forestry Agency which has more rights,” said Sudiasa.

In addition to local activity, with forest encroachment. Drought is also caused by climate change which changes the earth’s condition for the worse. Earth’s temperature increases due to the effects of greenhouse gases from combustion and environmental destruction, most of which come from humans.

When the temperature increases, the water on earth evaporates faster than usual. These hotter conditions cause the soil to become drier. Because the process of transpiration – the absorption of water from the soil and plants, then converting it into water vapor in the atmosphere – takes longer, drought in some areas will increase. This hotter air not only makes the earth drier, but the drought is prolonged and more intensive.

When water evaporates faster and longer, the absorption of water into the ground is reduced, and this causes a decrease in groundwater reserves. Surface soilalso becomes drier and hardened, so water does not absorb easily and can cause flooding when it rains.

Climate change has caused droughts during the summer and floods during the rainy season in several world regions. Those who receive the impact are mostly in developing countries that do not have enough technology to cope with disasters caused by human activities. Those who become “victims”are the communities that contribute the least to global emissions, including residents of Sumberklampok, who often have difficulty getting access to clean water and receive floods every rainy season.

Floods often occur in Sumberklampok. Water from the forest highlands flows into the residents’ villages when it rains. But not long after, the water has been absorbed. However, something has been different this past year. Floods are getting bigger, pooling in the streets, and even destroying people’s homes. “The worst thing was recent, in 2021 there was heavy rain, up to two days and two nights. The flood has destroyed a neighbor’s house,” said Sudiasa.

Injustice and Climate Change

The storm that the community in Sumberklampok received did not attend only because of the precipitation process – the hydrological cycle of rain – but the presence of “fuel” for a giant storm in the ocean. Warmer seas resulting fromglobal warming produce more fuel, resulting in big storms.

Years of analysis by experts have found that climate change stems from burning coal, oil, and gases. Most industries that manage these burnings come from first and second-world countries. Still, the people in the southern world often bear the brunt, such as Latin America, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. Most of these countries are referred to as poor countries, but this poverty occurs because of the colonization carried out by western countries today. The wealth of natural resources and raw materials in the southern hemisphere is taken to benefit industrialized countries, and they produce emissions and destabilize the ecosystem.

Therefore, climate changeis not only about environmental problems, but there is a strong interaction between ecology and social. This climate crisis also affects the form of inequality between different classes, races, genders, geographical locations, and generations. For this reason, efforts to tackle climate change are not only about stopping emissions but seeking justice about who is “obligated” to repair what has been damaged. Then, the struggle for climate justice means that vulnerable communities whose rivers are poisoned, their lands are stolen, homes washed away during storms need access to clean air and water, and food sovereignty.

Justice for Farmers and Nature

Fighting for climate justice means fighting for the rights of those who are excluded and must bear the burden of emissions they do not create. For this reason, IDEP and farmers in Sumberklampok Village made several efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change and try to “fix it”. From mid-2021, IDEP has conducted various training related to permaculture, food forests, and disaster mitigation.

Sudiasa himself received many benefits from IDEP’s training, even for things that he had never thought of at first actually helped him survive the threat of flooding. “Since making this permaculture bed, I haven’t been hit by a landslide because the water breaks through the tortuous beds. The water from above is broken,” said Sudiasa.

Through the training that Sudiasa received, he realized the benefits of the materials around him. Even the gutter in front of Sudiasa’s house was converted to planting water spinach because the water that flows is not wastewater, and it is intended to accommodate rain. Sudiasa plans the function of this ditch as a rainwater reservoir that can be used for watering plants.

Water spinach using the gutter in front of Sudiasa's house (Photo: Eka Dharma)

Gradually Sudiasa and other farmers in Sumberklampok are trying to build themselves more independent and sovereign because they are also building food forest and nurseries that the community can use. In addition, several pieces of training that Sudiasa received have changed his view of farming systems from conventional to more environmentally friendly forms. “I have gained a lot of knowledge, later on, what I have practiced at my home garden, I will try to put in the tegal [production garden], so that it is more strategic, from planting to post-harvest,” said Sudiasa with a smile. (Gd)