In a program aimed at providing Indonesian smallholders with a better understanding of best agricultural practices, nine oil palm smallholders from a number of producing regions in Indonesia visited their counterparts in Malaysia’s Negeri Sembilan.
The visit two-day visit early in December was a program of the Secretariat of the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOC) conducted in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Indonesia and the National Association of Smallholders (NASH) of Malaysia, CPOPC said in a release received by The Palm Scribe.
“This cross-visit was an effective way to exchange information and insights so that our small farmers are expected to not only increase their level of welfare but also enhance their role in attaining sustainable palm oil,” said Irmijati Rachmi Nurbahar who headed the Indonesian delegates.
Irmijati, who heads the Perennial and Refreshing Crop Directorate of the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture also aired hope that the program would increase the capacity of Indonesian oil palm smallholders with impacts not limited to their welfare.
The visitors, coming from various plasma and independent smallholder groups, including from the North Sumatran district of Asahan, South Sumatra’s Musi Banyuasin district, Jambi’s Bungo district and the Palangkaraya district of Central Kalimantan, visited the NASH office in Kuala Lumpur and oil palm plantations in Kampung Chuah, Negeri Sembilan and held an interactive discussion with the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB)
NASH President Haji Aliasak bin Ambia said that the program would be “a pivotal platform of smallholder cooperation among Indonesia and Malaysia” that would enhance cooperation in palm oil between the two countries.
“This field and MPOB visits gave the unique opportunity for the participants to gather more knowledge, particular challenges, and cross-fertilizing experiences and creative solutions in managing small-scale plantations,” the release said.
“Sustainable oil palm cultivation with proper gardening techniques would increase farmers ‘productivity and farmers’ welfare,” said Riswanto, who heads the Karya Mukti Village Cooperative Unit (KUD) which holds an Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) certification for its 414 hectares of palm oil plantation in Jambi.
Bambang Gianto from the Mukti Jaya KUD in Musi Banyuasin said he was keen to share some of the lessons learned from the visit with fellow farmers in his South Sumatra.
“Malaysian independent smallholders use permanent water reservoirs to collect rainwater for the spraying of pests and shrubs. Some even used palm fronds and leaves as forage for goats” said Bambang.
Arief Budiarto, a participant from Palembang, South Sumatera, said using palm leaves as goat feed could be put into practice back home.
“This could further spur us as oil palm smallholders, to be able to create the innovations for the welfare of oil palm farmers. It also encourages our enthusiasm as oil palm smallholders, to continue to increase knowledge so that later it could have a positive impact on the livelihood of the farmers of the oil palm.” Arief conveyed.
The Indonesian delegates, who came from different regions, also had a chance to compare best practices among themselves.
NASH suggested that similar visit from Malaysia to Indonesia should be done in the near future while CPOPC, according to the release, is planning more initiatives and programs related to improving the capacity and welfare of smallholders, including convening a Smallholder Summit 2020 with participants from a number of palm oil-producing countries.
The activity is expected to provide a showcase of the comprehensive supports needed by smallholders, including on sustainability standards, innovative and smart farming, access to finance and high-yielding seeds.