During these five years of cooperating with IDEP, farmer groups in Pedawa Village have been able to try variations of vegetable and fruit crops and cultivate them. The variety of seeds they plant provides its advantages because they can implement crop rotation to minimize the arrival of pests and diseases. “It’s good that we can exchange seeds because here [IDEP] is a seed bank, so we do not plant one type of plant,” said Kadek Suantika, a farmer from Pedawa Village.
Seed banks are a form of sustainable ‘investment’ for the sustainability of humans and nature in the future. However, its existence will be lost if there is no support from local farmers to cultivate it. Therefore, for ten years, local farmers in Bali have collaborated hand in hand to preserve various local seeds. IDEP also carries out distribution, testing, and training to maintain quality and enrich the diversity of seeds.
Bringing back farmers’ memories of the seed saving process is not easy because, for decades, people have been pampered by chemical agriculture and market mechanisms that increasingly ensnare small farmers. Farmers are made to depend on chemical products. In addition, the green revolution is not only about the use of pesticides, herbicides, urea, and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), but also pollution of soil, water, and air. Those facts become IDEP materials in every seed-saving training.
The seed-saving training, part of permaculture, has received a good response from the farmers, and this training has increased their capacity to be more independent. “Initially, I thought that [seed saving] was difficult, so I was lazy. But after being given training, in the end, it was very useful, including to the farmers in the group as well,” said Suantika, who regularly produces various kinds of vegetable seeds.
Suantika has produced various types of plant seeds for five years, such as green spinach, basil, eggplant, kailan, mustard greens, cucumber, and many more. Every seed produced is obtained from other seed farmers. “To plant this, we usually take turns, so it’s different, such as when Mrs. Made planted basil and bitter melon, other farmers can plant spinach and eggplant,” added Suantika while introducing Made Jempiring, who was sitting next to him.
Made Jempiring herself has been involved in seed saving for four years and has even varied our seed bank. “Because my husband passed away, I was continuing his works now,” said Made Jempiring, who currently lives alone in her house.
For more than two years, Made Jempiring lived alone because her child had chosen to work in the capital city. Although, currently, Jempiring lives alone in her house, she can still fulfill her needs, even sharing with neighbors. Until now, this woman from Pedawa Village has produced various kinds of seeds, such as pumpkin, spinach, long beans, chilies, and other vegetable seeds.
Apart from gardening and doing seed saving, Made Jempiring also takes care of a cow which is also part of the collaboration between IDEP and farmers. This program makes farmers feel helped because there is a result among 70% for farmers and 30% for the IDEP program as a provider of capital and assistance. Not only get additional income, cows that are cared for by farmers are also integrated with the biogas program. This support becomes an alternative fuel that is more environmentally friendly. In addition, cow dung can also be used as compost, so farmers do not need to buy fertilizer in the market. Managing the garden is even more effective without spending more money.
“We have greatly benefited [from this program]. First, we meet household needs, and if there is excess, we share it with our neighbors. Usually, we consume rejected fruit because the seeds must be of good quality,” said Suantika. He also added that his principles come from various permaculture training he received with IDEP.
Made Jempiring, Kadek Suantika, and other seed farmers have helped seed banks in Bali grow. They have continuously maintained and preserved the open-pollinated seeds that impact our future. The Seed Bank, which IDEP built with seed farmers throughout Bali, has developed 44 seeds, and it will increase as people’s awareness of food and seed sovereignty grows.
Every year, the seed farmers grow different crops, making them understand the different types of seeds and creating a good crop rotation. Farmers also regularly hold meetings every year at the IDEP training center, sharing their experience with being seed farmers. These activities enrich the diversity of seeds in Bali and maintain good relations with fellow farmers that have been going on for the past ten years. (Gd)