Climate Change and Indonesia’s Slash and Burn – Agroforestry Can Help
Agricultural production, especially in developing countries, plays a large role in carbon dioxide emissions. The culprit: “Slash and burn,” a crude deforestation technique used in a number of countries, no more so than in Indonesia.
According to the Global Fire Emissions Database, on many days in September and October the CO2 emissions from Indonesia’s fires exceed the average daily emissions from all economic activity in the United States.
Indonesia has developed plans to counter this massive deforestation. At the core is encouraging farming in state and community forests—agroforestry.
Actually helping farming communities maneuver the legal and technical challenges are international NGOs, including World Neighbors.
World Neighbors has helped communities obtain legal permits for 42,000 acres of state-owned forests. 7,400 households from 43 villages in Eastern Indonesia can now legally access and farm this land.
Families plant and harvest various perennial trees, including cashew nuts, nutmeg and candlenuts. Between them are planted food crops, including corn, bananas and avocado. The products are consumed by farm families, greatly increasing food security. The surplus is sold in local markets, increasing incomes.
With the help of facilitators who live in villages, many farmers have formed cooperatives. These groups have established savings and credit programs to increase plantings and output, developed marketing strategies to grow sales and have learned to advocate for government support. This includes new water supplies, infrastructure and basic health services.
The Indonesian government is devoting more resources to encourage “social forestry” in state-controlled forests. It makes sense. Forest is not being burnt down. Food production and incomes have increased. Connection to and interaction with government institutions has become the norm.
And, over time, carbon dioxide emissions will come way down.