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Astungkara Way Updates #2

farmers making neem leaf ferment for pes control

Making neem leaf ferment for pest management under guidance of local expert

The rise of industrial chemical agriculture has seen farmers sold on the idea of a magical “silver bullet” - solutions that claim to solve pest and yield issues such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides. However, the negative impact of applying these chemicals on the farms goes beyond eliminating harmful pests, but all pests including those that are necessary for crops to grow healthily. These chemicals also impact farmers' health, livelihoods, quality of produce, and environmental health. These quick-fix inputs have devastated rural communities across the globe over the past seven decades.

farmers in bali working on a rice field

Planting rice in a new pattern together

The transition to regenerative farming in such a context is therefore not just a technical matter of farming practices, it is more a matter of building farmers’ capacity to make their own decisions with the necessary knowledge to help rebuild the fabric of their communities and thus allow them to be proud of the local cultures. As the saying goes “restoring the community is restoring the environment”. The well-being of people is closely tied to the well-being of the environment.

The approach adopted in Subak Uma Lambing is the Farmer Field School (FFS), which originated here in Indonesia for Integrated Pest Management (IPM) decades ago and later advocated by FAO. Under today’s changing and increasingly complicated environment, in order to make decisions that truly benefit local communities as well as the environment, new knowledge is necessary. It is especially so for smallholder farmers like those here in Uma Lambing.

farmers in bali attending a workshop

Sharing observation and experience with newly adopted practices

Through repeated observation-based learning cycles, farmers acquire the skills and knowledge to observe and respond to their farms' issues in a regenerative or holistic way. Farmers are at the center of the whole process, so they get to decide what to learn. This ensures each of their most pressing concerns is addressed, and as the communities interact and exchange thoughts throughout the process, a stronger bond is built between both young and older generation farmers.

In Uma Lambing, this is how farmers are transitioning into regenerative agricultural communities. Through expressing their concerns and interests to the field experts and facilitators, the curriculum of FFS was designed accordingly with the help of Dr. Uma, Yayang, reNature, and Astungkara Way. Throughout the first year of transition, the farmers decided to learn:

  • compost making

  • new planting patterns

  • nutrient management

  • legumes and organic matter incorporation into the soil

  • agroecosystems

With the help of local experts in the Complex Rice System, farmers are having their questions answered and their interests experimented systematically. It is especially important to note that the new planting patterns have been promoted by the government for years, but only since the project started did the farmers really adopt the practice.

These will be precious experiences that our pioneering farmers can proudly share with the whole community and encourage more farmers to join. Let us be reminded that no small deed goes unnoticed, as every 1% of your bill when you dine out at ZFPA partner restaurants is currently what’s driving such an unparalleled transition!

farmers enjoying a meal of traditional balinese cuisine

Celebrating good food cooked by local mamas at the end of a learning session!


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