Finding What Works for Smallholder Farmers in Sintang, West Kalimantan

Kopernik is excited to be working with Lingkar Temu Kabupaten Lestari, the Government of Sintang district, and Credit Union Keling Kumang to support smallholder farmers in adopting sustainable agri-business practices. The partnership will be exploring potential commodities and technology solutions as environmentally friendly alternatives for farmers, which can support the economic development of farming communities.

The agriculture sector in Sintang district, West Kalimantan is currently dominated by rubber and palm oil, which cover 93,113 hectares and 151,587 hectares respectively of land in the area (2015 data). Palm oil alone accounted for 84 percent of total plantation production in Sintang district at 214,761 tonnes, according to data from the Central Statistics Agency. This means that smallholder farmers in Sintang are heavily dependent on the rubber and palm oil industries.

In the spirit of finding and testing potential solutions, we are conducting research and experimentation over the next six months. For the research phase, Kopernik will carry out a value chain analysis of two potential commodities that can help diversify farmer incomes - cacao and Sengkubak leaves.

Kopernik is assessing the potential of cacao and sengkubak as promising commodities in Sintang, West Kalimantan. (Photo credit: Fauzan Adinugraha/Kopernik)

Cacao is potential in reducing Sintang farmers’ dependency on rubber and palm oil and increasing farmers’ income. The commodity is a recently introduced crop with approximately 300 farmers currently involved in its cultivation with a plantation area of 125 hectares. Meanwhile, Sengkubak is a local plant of Kabupaten Sintang which is commonly used as flavor enhancer in cooking. However, the plant is not yet cultivated at a larger scale.

Following the research phase, Kopernik will conduct experiments to test a solar dryer as a potential solution to improve the quality of cacao during the post-harvest process, and thereby lead to a higher selling price. Findings from the research and experiments will be shared to relevant stakeholders including farmers’ groups and government officials, with a view to replicating them at a larger scale.

Stay tuned to hear more about our work with smallholder farmers in Sintang, West Kalimantan.