30 Apr 2020
DATE: 01 Mar 2018
At the end of December 2017, in the Sumberejo District Office, Tanggamus, Lampung, representatives of 40 community forest farmer groups (HKm) in the region received coffee processing equipment from Bank Indonesia (BI). This is not the first time, assistance and offers of cooperation are received by them since their success in practicing social forestry.
Social forestry – one of the programs that provides community area to be managed as forest- is indeed being actively promoted by the government. No half-hearted, until 2019, it is targeted that an area of 12.7 million hectares of forest will be handed over to the community to be managed through five schemes: HKm, village forest, customary forest, community plantation forest, and partnership.
At Tanggamus, social forestry is implemented through the HKm scheme. This opportunity was not wasted as an opportunity to change the pattern of their relationship with the surrounding forest, which was used to be full of conflicts. The story of forest encroachment has been replaced by the sustainable and productive use of forest resources.
They planted the management area with various types of agroforestry plants, especially coffee. They process, package and find sustainable marketing chains for these commodities. They break the chain of exploitation by middlemen through the establishment of cooperatives.
In the last two years, Small Farmer Group (SFG / Gapoktan) in the southern part of Lampung successfully defended the tradition of being the champion of the Wana Lestari Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK). Respectively for HKm Beringin Jaya (2016) and HKm Sidodadi (2017).
At first glance it sounds easy, but this is actually a long story about social movements, which emphasizes the struggle to change the mindset of the human beings in it: from exploiting to utilizing in a sustainable way.
Naturally, they did not move alone. Through the support of the KEHATI Foundation in the Tropical Forest Conservation Action (TFCA) program – Sumatra, the Kota Agung Utara Consortium (KORUT), a local non-governmental organization (NGO), assisted 28 SFG in Tanggamus in an effort to obtain permits to manage a HKm.
As a result, Tanggamus has now become a model. A complete learning area about the social movements of people around the forest in transforming conflict narratives into stories about conservation for the common good.
Of course, nothing is truly perfect. There is still a lot of homework to be done, especially related to how to maintain the continuity of this good first step in the future.
On a cloudy afternoon and accompanied by a gust of wind in one corner of the village located in the Sub-district of Sumberejo, Tanggamus, Mohamad Burhanudin and Ali Sofiawan from KEHATI had the opportunity to interview KORUT Coordinator Fajar Sumantri. The following are excerpts from the results of the interview:
Can you tell us about the situation in Tanggamus, especially in relation to community relations with the forest first, before the success story of the implementation of the social forestry program was realized?
In the past, it was full of conflict. Farmers are considered to plant crops in the forest areas illegally so that they are driven out. Then, the government offered transmigration as the solution. Unfortunately, not all farmers who participate in transmigration can live well. The land is swampy. Planting always fails because rice that is ready for harvest is always submerged in the tide. Their lives are difficult and down, and some choose to return.
They then replant the forest with coffee. The price of coffee was good, but they were kicked out again. Farmers are getting depressed.
In 1998-1999, the era of reformation. Massive logging of the forest ensued. It happened almost on all protected forest areas in Tanggamus. Along with that, it started self-initiatives from the community to manage forests sustainably. In fact, in 2007, since the issuance of HKm regulations, a number of farmer groups began to develop HKm, but the support was weak and there were parties toying with them, efforts to develop HKm have not been successful. However, their desire to continue to fight for HKm has never really vanished. Maybe it can’t be separated from their dark story in the past about their relationship with the forest.
Finally, starting in 2014, KORUT, with support from TFCA Sumatra, tried to assist them. As a result, in 2015 the KORUT assisted community to receive a management permit. Until 2017 there have been 28 farmer groups that have successfully been accompanied to obtain a HKm management permit.
What efforts have been made by KORUT in helping communities obtain permits and implement HKm?
KORUT with the support from TFCA Sumatra and KEHATI continue to make various breakthroughs, one of which is by embracing the local government. Secondly, we also embrace other partners from the district government to the lower levels, such as the village government, then there is the KPH (Forest Management Unit), and there are extension workers. This is very important, especially in terms of designing a program. After that, to accommodate all aspirations, identify challenges in the field, then move together.
The people’s hope to have a good future and change things towards positive things is always there. However, they need assistance and counselling to realize that good hope. That is one of our roles at Tanggamus.
Not only how to get permission, but also how the implementation can make an earning, so that it can be a lesson for them. And, we prove that the myth that states that our society is “stupid” is not true if we refer to what we have succeeded in doing here.
What is the key to success of mentoring?
In mentoring and counselling, one of the main keys is to build community trust and enthusiasm. To maintain that trust, we jointly seek activities that produce something tangible and beneficial to their lives. This is to keep the community positive about HKm. For example, related to water issues, that can now be managed properly, with no visible major floods and also the absence of severe drought in the dry season. For example, in the Margoyoso area they are no longer used wells, because now they have water that is already available in water sources, and this can be a good indicator of HKm impact. There is a significant difference between those who have and have not become HKm.
What commodities have been developed in implementing HKm at Tanggamus, and how have they been developed so far?
The majority of commodities developed here are coffee. One of the reasons was seeing at HKM Beringin Jaya, which had succeeded in developing coffee commodities. In addition, through the commodity of coffee, women can also take part in activities related to these commodities so that there is a great opportunity to increase family welfare. Systematically, we put the fathers at the coffee grinding stage, while the women who did the picking. One brand that has been successfully developed in the market is Codot Coffee, which is currently rising in popularity. Every month the demand reaches 300 kilograms. This is a very good first step, considering the first capital was only Rp. 3 million, and now it can give profit up to Rp. 17 million.
From the welfare side, how much benefit have the community got from managing HKm, especially through the coffee commodity?
Before HKm, based on the most visible benefit was an increase in income. The development is truly extraordinary in terms of income, in fact, there are up to 6000 percent increase, from only Rp 1 million per group, now it has reached Rp 65 million per group, it is extraordinary. Especially from coffee commodities, which are processed into finished products. So, the value of the commodity is increasing. It’s true, not all of them do this. But, at least there is a model and there is evidence.
How can the economic benefits of HKm be aligned with forest conservation goals?
We hope that these steps do not only exist at Tanggamus. To do so, we decided to go out, reach bigger areas, one of which is to reach the market. Because, the market has a very strong network. In the market there is a free competition. Within the market there are also a variety of dynamics and challenges that must be answered in order to accelerate the community to maximize the yield of its commodities. With an increasingly broad and open market, people are increasingly eager to continue producing because they get better economic benefits. This is very important to be able to provide a sense of calm for the community.
After that, we can only ask them to do the most important activity, which is protecting the forest. So we continue to commit to working with friends who are nearly 23,000 families, and have covered an area of 43,900 hectares from 58,000 hectares in Tanggamus.
Over time, with the success of the farmer groups in Tanggamus implementing HKm, support from the parties flowed in. How do you see that?
It is correct. Aids came from BRI, BI, the Ministry of Villages, both in the form of credit assistance and processing equipment. This is an appreciation for what we have done. This assistance is bringing a fresh air, about how to collect and share roles in the framework of accelerating the achievement of social forestry objectives, namely community welfare and forest sustainability.
So, whatever is done by farmers, if they cannot develop their activities, it will be useless. So, what has been done by BI, BRI, and the Ministry of Health can be a way for banks and other institutions to enter the system and provide assistance. We must remember that the main objective is how to help the government in improving people’s welfare. And what has been done can be a good model, because there is always room to be filled.
Then when the success in this economic sector is achieved, it will also affect other sectors. For example, currently all school-age children living around HKm have gone to school because the community is increasingly prosperous. This is one indicator that shows that the program is successful. Indeed, we currently do not have numerical data to prove it, but in the future, we will be able to display it. This indeed can also be a spirit for us to continue to enthusiasm at work.
What is the role of the local and central government in the effort to encourage what has been sought by the KORUT and farmer groups to make the achievements in Tanggamus as a model in other regions?
The role of the central government is very important. Local governments are only beneficiaries. Because the biggest triggers are the central government and also the ministries. Usually the local government will follow order. So, sharing space in this matter is very important because social forestry is not just talking about permits, but it will also talk about markets and so on.
For example, if the Ministry of Industry wants to help, the best way is to provide tools, while the Ministry of Trade can provide counselling on how to trade properly, while the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK) can provide licenses quickly, and the Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs can provide counselling about how best to run a business, and the Ministry of Health can invite several parties to open a business unit in the village with a village-owned enterprise (BUMDES). All these are inputs can be mixed into a model.
What are the hopes for the future of KORUT farmer groups in Tanggamus?
We hope that Tanggamus will become a model and be replicated by other regions so that it can develop together. Therefore, I am very grateful to SFG, Women’s Farmer Groups (KWT), and local governments, and especially to TFCA Sumatra and KEHATI for supporting the program at Tanggamus. Our biggest hope is that when the time we have to let go, this activity will still continue to ru