World Food Day: Fighting hunger and poverty in rural Indonesia

the CWS Indonesia team | October 16, 2015

Yosina Seu next to the A-frame she uses to grow vegetables. Photo: CWS

Yosina Seu next to the A-frame she uses to grow vegetables. Photo: CWS

Social protection and agriculture: Breaking the cycle of rural poverty is the theme of World Food Day today. It is important to highlight the importance of agriculture in reducing rural poverty and helping ensure people’s access to food.

In Indonesia, massive disparities persist between urban centers such as Jakarta, which are mostly located on Java, and the poor rural islands of eastern Indonesia, such as Timor. These islands are isolated not only by distance, but also by poor infrastructure and public services plus livelihoods gained largely from subsistence agriculture.

In West Timor, CWS is working with smallholder farmers and their communities to help them grow more food and increase dietary diversity by adding more nutritious vegetables to their diet.  One such farmer is Yosina Seu, who lives in Enonabuasa village, South Central Timor district. Yosina and her husband, Sefnat Nabuasa, have always planted vegetables in the garden behind their house using water from their well during the rainy season but then, during the dry season when the well has dried up, having to go without. Yosina had to sell most of the vegetables after the harvest, setting only some aside for her family.  But, once they had eaten those, they had to buy vegetables in the market during the dry season.

In February 2015, Sefnat and Yosina joined a farming education program facilitated by CWS staff at the village health post where their daughter Maria gets her monthly check-up. There they learned how to plant vegetables using less water, less fertilizer and less effort than in the past by making an A-frame structure for them.  Using the A-frame method conserves water compared to growing vegetables the traditional way – in spread-out rows in the ground – because it creates a vertical garden, maximizing the number of plants in a small space. And, as it uses individual plastic pots for each plant, recycled materials like plastic cups and bottles can be used and reused.  The A-frame makes it possible to control soil quality by selecting only good quality soil from the garden, then adding organic fertilizer, which increases yield.  This system is a well-known gardening method used in many countries. CWS staff introduced A-frames to the community with advice on the A-frame’s value and how to build it along with some materials to supplement those available locally.

Yosina tells us, “When we learned about this farming method that was new to us, my husband immediately built an A-frame in our garden, using bamboo and discarded plastic containers to plant the seeds we received after completing the training program. We also learned how to make organic fertilizer; and now our vegetables grow healthily and plentifully.” She excitedly adds, “Since February, I have harvested five times already; at the moment we are planting bitter gourd, beans and tomatoes. Now we don’t have to buy vegetables anymore, which has saved us money, and we can have fresh vegetables every day. I am very happy because this really helps us have more nutritious food for our family.”

Now, Yosina’s family can eat a bigger variety of vegetables, the children have the nutrition they need to grow and thrive and the family’s new savings can be used to pay for the children’s schooling. This World Food Day, the CWS Indonesia team celebrates Yosina and all the smallholder farmers who are fighting rural hunger and poverty — one garden plot at a time. Zero hunger is possible!