Archive for August, 2013

speech to World Meteorological Organization on climate services, of Switzerland
August 21, 2013

Good morning,

Mr. Robert Carlson, WFO President

I would like to thank, to WFO and WMO for inviting me to this very important seminar to discuss for a solution to the fate, live and dead of the family farmers.

I am Agusdin Pulungan, from WAMTI, The Indonesian Farmers and Fishers Society Organization.

I feel honored to be with you today, to share with you about the challenges of farmers towards the climate services. And today, I am going to tell you about the farmer’s case in my country; Indonesia.

To start with, I want to tell you a story about Sukini. Sukini is a women farmer, living in Wonogiri, in the Central of Java island, Indonesia.

In a heat afternoon, Sukini takes off her bamboo hat and like in a dream. In front of her, she looks at her rice crop field that suddenly exposed to pests. She has no idea “whether the pest is plant hopper or anything. The Rice crop is turning red from the roots up  “. She is much aware that with such a conditions, it is not certain, whether the harvest season can be expected. The rain that is usually down for three months was earlier to come. And at that afternoon, again and again come a torrential rain.

The Sukini story, is just one of thousands of stories about Indonesian farmers who swayed by environmental destruction resulting impacts of climate change. It adds to the  frequency and severity of most routine hazards, such as floods, droughts, and landslides.

Two weeks ago, I have got update information from the meteorological agency, informing that the harvesting time in 2013 will delay, due to the delay of raining season at the end of 2012. We also receive a warning, telling us, that this condition will affect production and harvest failure.

Ladies and Gentleman,

Did you know? associated with the sukini story,

During 2002 to 2009, according to the official report, there are about 1 million people or more than 200.000 Indonesian family farmers have suffered from the climate disaster. About 303.641 ha food crops was damaged  due to drought and about 271.381 ha due to flood. Not to mention, how many losses for other crops and livestock that were caused by the pest and diseases.

Currently, there are about 80 million people in my country who are depending on farming economy. To this vulnerability community, the effects of depression and stress of life becomes more severe. They have a high level of exposure to climate change. Damage to crops due to the pest population, due to an imbalance in the environment, due to the suddenly coming flood and the drought. And it will bring more and more losses with unawareness and disability of the farmers to respond to this crisis.

On the other hands, the scientist, the climate provider, and the government, were saying that the influence of global climate change on the Indonesian agriculture has become a reality. This change indicated among others by the catastrophic floods, droughts caused by a long dry season and a higher temperature and shifting of the rainy season that in recent years led to the shifting time of planting and harvesting of food crops like rice, pulses and vegetables. The availability of water for crops and livestock become more and more uncertain.

Based on the results of monitoring conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture, the climate change impact in the farming sector can be grouped into two, namely; the direct impacts and indirect impacts. The direct impact can be vulnerable such as livestock diseases or changes in animal behavior as a form of adaptation that affect eventually to the decrease in productivity . Indirectly,  disruption of feed availability.

Immediate impact  is in the form of cattle susceptibility to pests mainly in La Nina conditions when rainfall and high humidity occurred. Poultry faces a variety of symptoms such as poultry disease during La Nina years 2010-2011, included: Newcastle Disease (ND), Chronic Respiratory Disease (CRD), Infectious Bronchitis (IB), Infectious Bursal Disease (IBD), Infectious Laryngotraechitis (ILT) and AI (avian influenza / AI). These pest explosion is just one factor among other vulnerabilities faced by farmers associated with climate change.

I think this is not the time for business as usual. I do aware that there are efforts conducted by the climate provider to mitigate and to try to find the solutions to adapt with this climate change. In our case, the climate providers try to find the way by changing agricultural practices and improve water management techniques. But there are some barriers, the high cost of training and price of tools to equipt the farmers are the constraints. With these conditions, most of the farmers are unable to act and adapt properly.

Farmers is actually has an awareness to what and how climate change is happening. Unfortunately, the farmers have not been able to read the scientific information on climatic changes, especially those information from the Meteorological institute. Then, they could not do the right actions in anticipating the changing season.

Ladies and gentlemen,

A good climate services has to begin with the farmers.

There is no farmers in any country can escape from the impact of climate change. In the past, the way that the climate provider used to inform the farmers was less specific,  less appropiate to challenge this climate crisis.

Again, it has to begin with farmers. You have to ask to the farmers, to formulate what you can provide for them to make decision. We need to move away from just communication to engagement.  Involve farmers in collecting data, in order to have a usability of the information’s. The climate provider should empower the farmers to engage with the agrometrology services, so that the farmers know, how to choose on what method to grow, to reserve the food, the feed and to manage the seeds stock that appropriate to climate condition, and offcourse to manage and harvest the water. Or creating a specific practical guideline applicable for a local scale.

With this knowledge and involvement, the farmers will be able to do proper action  and to adapt properly in their specific location, or may be,  to take advantages of the possible positive effect of the climate change.

I have a big hope that the climate provider could do this work together with farmers; I believe, by this,  the farmers will increase their ability, and change the behavior in challenging the climate crisis. And, I am keen to know, how it would developed in the future.

To give you a positive example,

What the climate provider, scientist and farmers had been doing in their effort in adaptation, at Ciganjeng Village, the Ciamis regency, West Java Province.

As an effort to adapt, a farmer was introduced to a method of floating rice planting, with SRI method. The result is remarkable; this method could produce 6, 2 Ton yield/ha, they harvested it on 14 march, 2013. While in the normal circumstances, the national average is only 4,5 ton yield/ha.

The purpose of these efforts is to overcome the farmers who are living in the flood prone areas, that facing difficulties and problems in planting rice in the flood season. Actually, the treatment or maintenance of floating rice is not much different from the conventional planting on the ground. But before this adaptation technology introduced, the farmers had never utilize the flooded area for planting rice. Then we will understand what went wrong before.

Ladies and gentlemen,

At least, there are about 17, 8 Million small family farmers are waiting for help and offcourse there are somemore that are ready to work with the climate provider and scientist.

We must do more to combat the climate change. The farmers are tired of “business as usual”. We are sure this is not the time for that. The farmers are hungry for help and action. The Farmers desire to involve in something innovative, that should be realize.

We, “the farmers organizations” WAMTI under WFO are ready to work with you.

Although we understand that there are three types of people in this globe: 1. those who make things happen, 2. those who watch things happen and 3. Those who wonder what happened, but after all, we are one people on one planet, one destiny, to overcome the climate crises.

We must do it together, and I do believe we shall overcome.

Do not confuse with the anecdote of the scientist when it comes into the climate change, which saying that “We must manage the unavoidable and avoid what is manageable”. But, we have to move forward  with progress to meet the realistic needs of all farmers all around the globe.

We all have to wake up, to do our responsibility as stewards to this planet.

And one more thing, do not forget and always be aware, like what Voltaire says: when Men argue, Nature Act.

 Agusdin pulungan

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