PALANGKA RAYA – The allotment in Kalampangan Village looks lush and green, packed with different kinds of fruit and vegetables. Plants thrive in these peatlands, which are treated by Randi and Rusman, young farmers from the community empowerment group JPIC Kalimantan Activists.
Randi and Rusman are still relatively young, not even 30 years old. In the allotment, they practice farming without the use of harsh chemicals, producing their own fertilizer and pesticides with eco-friendly, organic ingredients.
When a reporter from the Central Kalimantan Pos visited in May, they found dozens of representatives from community and farming groups across five watersheds (DAS). These representatives had come to learn all about the process of eco-friendly farming and ways to make their own agricultural practices more sustainable, maintaining crop yields without hurting the environment.
Randi took the visiting representatives through his simple recipe for organic pesticide: all you need is garlic, betel and galangal, plus a dash of water; leave to stand for 24 hours before spraying and voilà, that’s it!
As for the fertilizer, he and Rusman use eco-enzymes from fermented fruit and vegetables. “We don’t use chemical fertilizers. We ferment the leftover vegetables and fruit peels, mixed with brown sugar or palm sugar. The fermentation process itself takes about three months,” Randi continued.
“A single batch of fertilizer might take a kilogram of sugar, three kilograms of fresh fruits or vegetables, and 10 liters of groundwater or rainwater.”
The representatives listened closely to Randi’s explanation. His ideas were simple but elegant—and, crucially, easy enough for visiting farmers to start implementing right away back home.
Not far from Randi and Rusman’s allotment, representatives also had the opportunity to study bee cultivation at Mas Yoan Farm. In many ways, honeybee cultivation (both mellifera and kelulut) is dependent on farmers diverting from the use of chemical pesticides. Yoanes Budiyana, the owner of Budiyana Honeybees, explained how using non-organic pesticides can cause colonies to fail. Ultimately, he said, “for honeybee cultivation, the one thing that must be avoided is chemical pesticides in farming.”
The Coordinator of Community Empowerment at Borneo Nature Foundation (BNF) Indonesia, Yuliana Nona, explained that the Farmers’ Meeting, which was attended by groups from Das Rungan, Manuhing, Kapuas, Barito, and Kahayan, aimed to raise awareness and facilitate the spread of sustainable farming practices.
“The idea is simple: to meet people’s food needs without harming nature in the process,” said Nona.
The threat of climate change also has a negative impact on local food sustainability, as well as land conversion, illegal mining, electrofishing, and a general lack of public awareness when it comes to environmental issues.
“Having learned directly about permaculture and farming practices without the use of harmful chemicals, participants can apply these lessons to cultivating the land around their own neighborhoods, thus cutting down on pollution,” Nona concluded.
Dr. Rosukon Poompanvong, founder of the Thai Organic Agriculture Association, showed us how eco-enzymes are obtained by fermenting organic kitchen waste, such as fruit and vegetable pulp, sugars, and water. The resulting mixture is dark brown in color, with a strong fermented aroma.
Chairperson of the Center for Eco-enzyme Studies at Lambung Mangkurat University, Dr. Dian Masita Dewi, SE., MM., explained further the benefits of using eco-enzymes.
Adding eco-enzymes to crops will enhance the conversion of ammonia into nitrate (NO3), a natural plant hormone and an important nutrient. As a result, the leaves will grow fresh and wide, bearing fruit and vegetables that are less perishable, with a more concentrated flavor.
“The oranges I grow at home are very sweet, and I can leave cucumbers for a month without them rotting,” she added.
But eco-enzymes don’t just make fruit and vegetables tastier and more durable; if applied directly, there can be tangible benefits for facial skin health. “I have been using eco-enzymes as skincare for two years, and I have never had pimples. My face feels cleaner!”
Because of their ability to break down contaminants, eco-enzymes are used to purify pool water, and sometimes even as a form of alternative medicine to treat skin diseases or diabetes.
“There are 17 cases of diabetes mellitus that I have handled in South Kalimantan, but thankfully the condition dries up in around five days,” she said.
In dealing with diabetes mellitus, she recommended the patient’s feet be soaked in 10 milliliters of eco-enzyme fluid, mixed with a little hot water.
“It’s the same for burns. With this treatment, the skin tissue will grow stronger,” advised the 46-year-old mother.
In South Kalimantan, having coordinated the first use of eco-enzymes in disaster mitigation, she is now seeing eco-enzymes recognized more widely for their useful properties.
“Up to this point, we have relied on the eco-enzyme user community to help educate the public at large about the many benefits of eco-enzymes,” she concluded.