|Sijambu village and project staff meeting with community leaders|
In the traditional community forestry model, farmers grow trees on their land and sell them to companies. But in the Sintang district I visited in West Kalimantan, my eyes were opened to an alternative system. The farmers lease community land to a large forestry company (Finnantara, a subsidiary of Sinarmas Forestry) and are involved in various forestry activities with it. This collaboration seems to be working well.
Under this model, the company covers all the costs of establishing and managing the plantation, and pays the community a royalty for the timber harvested (currently IDR15,000 or about US$1.40 per cubic metre). More importantly, the company supports the farmers in growing rubber in part of the area. It provides farmers with site-clearing services and improved-quality planting material. It has also provided a road network where previously the only access was via the river. The benefits of growing rubber are proving valuable for enhancing the farmers’ livelihoods.
We visited three communities in the Sintang district. One of these was Sijambu sub village of Nangasigarak village, where the company has provided infrastructure and rubber plants, and established a credit fund that villagers can access. Community members told us that they use the money derived from growing rubber to send their children to university.
|Dayak woman working in forestry company's nursery|
At the third village we visited, Ratu Damai, we met farmer Pak Sumardin, who began planting rubber in 1996 with the company’s help. He told us that the greatest benefit from community forestry was the ability to establish and expand his own livelihood through harvesting and selling rubber. He now has 11 hectares of good-quality plantation from which he harvests up to 2 tonnes of latex each month. This earns his family about IDR 11-12 million (approx US$1,000) each month and allows him to send his four children to university. He has recently expanded his plantation with another 10 hectares of young rubber.
|Farmer Pak Sumardin with his rubber plantation|
The key message from a research/development view is that when we consider enhancing benefits to smallholders from community-based commercial forestry, we need to consider the issues from their perspective. We also need to look at broader interpretations of the benefits to determine the best ways forward for smallholder farmers.
By Tony Bartlett, ACIAR’s Forestry Research Program
ACIAR project FST/2009/051 Increasing productivity and profitability of Indonesian smallholder plantations is being led by the University of Tasmania, Australia.
Collaborating institutions are:
CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Australia
Forest Research and Development Agency, Indonesia
Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia
University of Sriwijaya, Indonesia
ACIAR’s forestry research in Indonesia
ACIAR’s forestry program
ACIAR's medium-term research strategy for Indonesia