Considered a dry province, Flores is away from government attention for the provision of energy and health facilities, and with high levels of local corruption, there is still considerable hope for the development of East Flores region led by a progressive movement of Permaculture within local community groups. No longer an obstacle to farmers and women’s groups, in six villages many households have already begun to independently produce their own food for the family – and even gaining profit from selling their own garden crops!.
East Flores is the largest producer of cashew, and second best Arabica coffee grower after Manggarai, but considered the poorest region of East Nusa Tenggara Province. Some of IDEP’s assisted villages have some facilities limitation – the absence of electricity networks, the inadequate access roads to follow, the lack of access to markets, and the clean water crisis.
In early 2013, with the support of Give2Asia and Ashmore Foundation, IDEP Foundation was introduced to the community of East Flores within a Disaster Risk Reduction and Community Disaster Management Group (CDMG) program in Serinuho village – a coastal village destroyed by tsunami in 1997.
Since then, IDEP Foundation synergized with the enthusiasm of East Flores community to develop their capacities, especially in the provision of healthy and organic food. For the sake of the sustainability of the program itself, from 2016 and for the next three years, this initiative will be fully supported by Ashmore Foundation, so the program that originally assist one village, evolved with the involvement of five more villages – Kolaka, Welo, Lewolere, Pajinian, Hokeng Jaya, and previously Serinuho, all practicing the lifestyle of permaculture.
“Because the characteristic of East Flores people to learn new things will take longer time – and huge effort to convince them – there’s a need to provide direct examples, with close assistance and persistency, giving support and motivation by the local partner organization – now the community believes that the program will bring good results for them, and only local organizations can do this with a local approach.” – Melky Baran, YPPS Coordinator, IDEP local partner in East Flores.
For four years, in collaboration with Social Development Studies Foundation (YPPS) of Larantuka, East Flores, IDEP Foundation has implemented a capacity building program for village communities to become more resilient and independent. Forming a good partner relationship with local organizations is a strategic key to achieve a successfully completed program for IDEP.
“It was very challenging at the very early stage of development, because mostly locals have no interest to join the program, but after years engaging close assistance, nowadays, the progress is very good.” said Melky.
Healthy Family, Strong Family
Current implemented activity – developed with East Flores community – is the establishment of food security systems through permaculture practices, environmental health, and also alternative livelihood for local households. To date, East Flores community has created a local organic seed banking network ‘Kelompok Usaha Bersama Simpan Pinjam’ supported by local seeds farmers from IDEP and YPPS assisted villages – now with nine types of seed collected.
Many inspirational figures emerge among this program of beneficiaries from six villages – women’s groups, farmer’s groups, and many other individuals that are now trained and able to develop their own organic home garden, and generate profits only from sales of their own organic crops. These success stories also are a vital key to inspire others, outside of the beneficiary communities, to practice permaculture.
The enthusiasm of East Flores community in implementing permaculture is full of positive energy, from exchanging local seeds between each other within the neighborhood, communal liquid compost making, sharing home-garden crops to each other, giving assistance on garden maintenance, and communal processing of alternative crops product. This harmonious circle between each community member, as well as with nature, shows that despite of all the struggles, there’s a big hope for them to be self-sufficient.
Positive impact from developing a healthy organic homegarden is just inspiration to other households or family members, and hopefully can inspire local government of Hokeng Jaya village to amend a policy for each house within the village to build a homegarden and produce their own healthy food- as incentive to provide a community water system and supply provision of fresh water to each household.
A progressive community, the program replication process for homegarden development was initiated by the community beneficiaries to share permaculture knowledge and skills with their neighbors.
“A lot of my neighbor got inspired to develop a homegarden after they visited my [permaculture] garden to buy [freshly harvested] vegetables, they say the look is so beautiful,” said Mama Esy (Mama in local language means mam or Mrs.)
Permaculture gardens are designed to follow natural patterns, which if cared for properly, will create such a fruitful, yet beautiful homegarden.
Community sharing – As an example of how local community mostly learned from direct knowledge sharing: Lowolere Village, a community village located close to Larantuka Town, on a main route from Maumere, Sika) the main livelihood of the community is selling their homegarden crops, mostly spinach, grown with the use of chemical fertilizers (urea) and chemical pesticides. After learning about permaculture with the other villages, Lowolere community has begun growing crops by organic gardening.
So the question is, are there any community groups in Indonesia domestically practicing full permaculture technique? If a disadvantaged community lacking basic infrastructure facilities and services, such as in East Flores where several permaculture groups now thrive, who ,are able to inspire others with their persistency in practicing the method, exchanging local seeds, and assisting the whole neighborhood to develop an organic homegarden, practicing sustainable agriculture and protection of the environment, also producing healthy food production – well, any community can copy their fine example.
Visit YPPS Facebook page here
Watch “Kebun Mama Siaga” video – a story about enhancement of East Flores community resilience towards disaster and the development of homegarden through permaculture as an equivalent solution.