Ideally, every region should be self-sufficient when it comes to food supply. The West Papua government recognizes the region’s precarious condition when it comes to food supply because it relies on other regions. Thus, farming for staple food crops becomes a big agenda. It entails training farmers to be more skilled and knowledgeable.
What Kind of Training is Important for Farmers?
The Indonesian government is looking forward to a new generation of farmers who will lead the country to self-sufficiency. There is an intention of attracting younger people to choose this career path for regeneration. It is not easy to cultivate capable farmers, though. There are important things that they need to learn, such as:
Plants suitable for the area
It is necessary for the farmers to learn about plants that are suitable for the condition of West Papua. When farming, one should always consider the land condition because crops will never grow well on land that does not have characteristics to support their growth. Crops that potentially grow well in the region are:
- Sweet potato
Ways to open farming land
Another skill that a farmer needs to learn is to open farming land. Understandably, most parts of the land in the region are untouched. Thus, the land must be prepared before farmers can grow crops on them. Every farmer needs to know how to open land properly and responsibly as to not disrupt the ecosystem.
Using farming tools correctly
This is a set of skills that every farmer must master. In farming, mastering tools enables a farmer to do their work efficiently. Some of the tools may not be familiar to the farmers and thus it is important that they learn it through training. It is also an effort to prevent accidents at work, because inappropriate use can be dangerous.
Maintaining the crops
Maintaining the crops is an important task for the farmer. It is not only about planting them. Every farmer expects to sow and yield bountiful crops. There are many programs that teach farmers to maintain their precious crops. One of them is creating fertilizers and pesticides that are environmentally friendly at a budget.
There are many farming techniques known in the agriculture world. The techniques are used to adapt to the condition of the land. In cases where the land condition is not good, farmers can use other mediums to grow their crops. Such knowledge is important so that farmers can utilize other methods when the situation calls for it.
Outputs of Farmer Training
Training West Papua farmers should be the priority of the government. Even several international organizations (e.g., International Labour Organization and United Nation Development Programme) have made efforts to realize this program.
Without doubt, the main output is to improve food security in the region. This province is located quite far from the main sources of staple food in Indonesia. Because of that, at times, some food ingredients become scarce. The price can also hike up due to certain situations in the market.
Vulnerable population is at risk of experiencing hunger due to the inability to obtain affordable food ingredients. This situation creates further disparity between the wealthier group and those who receive salary under living standard. Being self-sufficient in food supply allows people to obtain food ingredients at lower prices.
When the nutrients of every individual in the region are fulfilled, everyone can perform their role in the society optimally. Additionally, sufficient nutrients can help prevent some health conditions such as stunting in children.
Nonetheless, food security is not the only output expected from training farmers in West Papua. Here are other results that people expect:
- Helping vulnerable populations to be more independent in society.
- Allowing people to be more skilled so that they can obtain higher paying agriculture-related jobs if they do not want to run their own farms.
- Promoting equality among people in the region.
- Recovering economy post-pandemic, especially since many people lost their jobs.
Involving Stakeholders for the Program
To ensure the success of this program, the government should involve stakeholders. Many NGOs concerned in labor rights and entrepreneurship are the right parties to do collaborative projects with. It is aligned with the organizations’ visions and missions. Additionally, NGOs often have resources to do their tasks.
Involving local stakeholders is also an important move to make. ILO’s training program for farmers recruited local farmers as trainers. These local farmers have full understanding about the agriculture situation in the region. They are also considered as “one of the people” so that people will be more welcomed towards them.
Approach to the local community must be done appropriately as well. It is important to explain the benefits that local farmers will get from participating. To do this, the government bodies and other stakeholders must build rapport with the local community so that they can receive the new idea well.
Training farmers in West Papua is pivotal for food security. It also turns out that the benefits offered are food security as there are other issues that can be tackled by empowering people who work in agriculture.