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Klaten Farmers Turn to Green Farming - Central Java
Last modified: 2010-03-18 20:41:03

The organic fertilizers are sold at higher prices, and are becoming much sought after on international market.

"The profits from [Indonesia's] agricultural products could multiply up to five fold if we obtain organic agricultural certification," Agriculture Minister Suswono said during his recent visit to the region.

He was commencing the government-sponsored 2010 Go Organic program.

Hundreds of farmers no longer depend on chemical fertilizers and pesticides.  "We now use organic fertilizers on 75 percent of our crops. Hopefully it will be 100 percent by next planting season," said Juwandi, a leader of the Tani Mulyo farming community, in Karanglo village, Polanharjo, Klaten, Central Java.

The farmers used to totally depend on chemical fertilizers, which is getting more expensive and is considered detrimental to the soil.  "Seventy percent of farmers here work on a profit-sharing basis. They found that making a profit was difficult due to expensive fertilizers and pesticides," said Juwandi.

Concerned with the condition, Juwandi and a number of community figures initiated an effort to develop agriculture in a more eco-friendly and profitable manner through newly eastablished Tani Mulyo farming community.

Assisted by a bottled-water manufacturer and an NGO, they set up a laboratory to produce and test organic fertilizers from cattle and buffalo manure.

After a year of tests, supported by a campaign on eco-friendly farming methods, they managed to implement green farming methods on 7 of the 85 hectares of rice field at the end of last year. The planting pattern used 50 percent chemical and 50 percent organic fertilizers.

The harvest this month in fact dropped by between 10 and 15 percent in yeild but incresed in value.

A plot measuring 1,700 square meters that used chemical fertilizer yielded 0.85 ton of rice at a sale price of Rp 6,000 (60 US cents) per kilogram.  After using the eco-friendly farming methods, production dropped to 0.8 ton, but with a higher sale price of Rp 7,000 per kilogram.

"So, the difference in yields was not great and the anxiety that the planting pattern from chemical to organic would reduce production up to 30 percent was not proven," said Juwandi.

"After the second stage, we grew crops using 100 percent organic fertilizer at a lower cost and higher yields," he said.

As part of efforts to support the eco-friendly farming campaign, the lab also produces organic fertilizer to meet the demand of local farmers. The farming community sells organic fertilizer at Rp 300 per kg.  As many as 75 percent of the 450 farmers in the Tani Mulyo are expected to apply the eco-friendly methods by 2012.

Suswono said the ministry would provide 10,000 organic fertilizer processors to meet the demands of farmers so they would no longer depend on costly chemicals.  The budget for the processors, each costing Rp 350 million including cattle to produce manure, is currently being proposed to the House of Representatives for approval.

Suswono said the program should not be carried out hastily but in steps. "This must be done in stages so as to maintain production," he said.

The Jakarta Post Mar, 5th 2010 10:09 AM

Keywords: Klaten, Java, Jakarta Post, cooperative, Tani Mulyo, farming, eco-friendly, manure, green farming, organic fertilizer
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