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Farmers go organic in the use of eco-friendly planting method - Jakarta Post
Last modified: 2010-04-12 04:32:22

Hundreds of farmers in Klaten regency, Central Java, no longer fully depend on chemical fertilizers and pesticides, applying eco-friendly organic fertilizer instead.

Leader of the Tani Mulyo farming group, Juwandi, said that at present, 75 percent of the farmers' crops in Karanglo and Polanharjo villages were provided with organic fertilizer. The rest still used chemical ones.

"We will use 100 percent organic fertilizer during the upcoming planting season," he said.

He said previously, farmers depended on chemical fertilizer, which was expensive as well as harmful.

"Seventy percent of farmers here cultivate farms on a profit-sharing basis. Expensive fertilizer and pesticides impacted on their finances," he said.

Concerned with the condition, Juwandi and a number of community figures worked to develop an eco-friendly but profitable farming practice over the past year by joining the Tani Mulyo farming group.

Assisted by bottled water producer Aqua and the Bina Swadaya NGO, they set up a lab last year to conduct tests as well as produce organic fertilizer from cattle and buffalo manure.

After conducting tests for almost a year, they implemented the green farming method on seven of 85 hectares of rice fields at the end of last year with a mixed planting system, using 50 percent chemical and 50 percent organic fertilizers.

Based on the harvest, production experienced between a 10 and 15 percent drop. A 1,700-square-meter plot using chemical fertilizer produced 0.85 tons of rice with a Rp 6,000-kilogram sale price, while the use of organic fertilizer produced 0.8 tons of rice at the higher Rp 7,000-kilogram sale price.

"The difference in yields was not high and the concern that the system would reduce production up to 30 percent was not proven," Juwandi said.

As part of efforts to support the eco-friendly farming system, the lab also produces organic fertilizer to meet the farmers' demand at a selling price of Rp 300 per kilogram, as well as natural pesticides.

Juwandi said that as many as 75 percent of 450 farmers, who are grouped in Tani Mulyo, are expected to apply the eco-friendly planting pattern on about 85 hectares of their farmland by 2012.

When visiting the group's lab recently, Agriculture Minister Suswono said as part of the government-sponsored 2010 Go Organic program, the ministry would provide 10,000 organic fertilizer processors to meet the demands of farmers so they would no longer depend on chemical fertilizer.

A budget for processors, each costing Rp 350 million, is currently being proposed to the House of Representatives for approval, he added.

Suswono said the program would not be undertaken fast, but would ensure good production as organic farming was expected to improve the farmers' economy apart from being eco-friendly.

"Organic products are sought after at the international market and their prices are also higher," he said. "Prices of *organic* farm products can multiply up to fivefold if we obtain organic agricultural certification."

Slamet Susanto , The Jakarta Post , Klaten | Fri, 04/09/2010 12:13 PM | The Archipelago

Keywords: Jakarta Post, organic, fertilizer, eco-friendly, Java, Tani Mulyo, pupuk organik, pestisida, certification, international market
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