Written by: Yohanes Prahara, Content Creator and Media Liaison BNF Indonesia
The Covid-19 pandemic has become a global disaster that has hit all parts of the world over the past year, including in Indonesia. Borneo Nature Foundation (BNF) Indonesia in partnership with Save the Orangutan, and supported by Civil Society in Development (CISU) conducted community empowerment in Bukit Sua Village, Rakumpit District, Palangka Raya City, Central Kalimantan, in an effort to ensure rural communities remain independent in terms of food supplies.
One of the community empowerment programs includes the permaculture program, run by a group of housewives. This program is deemed appropriate for people who have garden space to grow their daily foodstuffs to reduce reliance on market.
“In Bukit Sua Village, there are three community groups with 24 members, mostly consisting of mothers who work as housewives,” said the Head of RW 01 of Bukit Sua Village, Maria.
Maria said that most of its members grow plants for kitchen spices, such as chilies, tomatoes, onions, galangal, ginger and turmeric. These kitchen spices can thrive in gardens so that the members can reduce expenses of buying herbs in the market.
In the same place, Head of RT 01 of Bukit Sua Village, Marta Lisa, explained that apart from housewives, most of the members in his area work as fish catchers and rubber tappers. They have more time at home so this permaculture activity can also provide positive activities for residents in RT 01.
“Apart from spices, we also plant several types of vegetables, such as tamarind eggplant, cassava, and long beans. There are also fish ponds, besides the fish we can consume, fishpond water is also good for watering our plants. In fact, we also have several kelulut honey hives.” he said.
Marta added that during this pandemic, health protocols were strictly enforced. As recommended on the posters given by BNF and CISU, residents must maintain cleanliness according to protocol, and reduce their travel to crowded places such as markets and other public places.
“With this permaculture initiative, it is enough to reduce our activities to go shopping to the market because most of our needs are obtained directly from our respective yards. While people are confused about getting food because they can’t go to the market, we have no trouble,” he added.
BNF Indonesia Community Organizer Fadly Amiha explained, in permaculture there is an interconnectedness where the types of plants are not just valuable to people. She gave an example of what was done by women in RT 01, who planted vegetables and several types of flowers, which provides pollen and nectar for kelulut honey bees which they also keep in their yard.
“Ecologically, the role of kelulut is also important for pollinating plants in the yard. So, in one permaculture area, everything is interconnected and has an important role to play with each other,” said Fado.
Fado explained that in this pandemic situation, the professions and practices that could survive were farming. From this permaculture activity, apart from being able to meet their own food needs and their family’s needs, the excess from the harvest can be sold to other residents so that their food is fulfilled, further contributing to their economy.
“One form of conservation activities, apart from the environment, must always improve the welfare of the community, so that the efforts made to protect the environment are also carried out consciously and sincerely by the people in it,” he said.