This week in Rudy Reads, president of La Galigo Foundation, Fatima Spalburg, reports on a busy, but very productive first week in Indonesia.
I met Rudy and Saga in the Dalton Hotel in Makassar shortly after my arrival. This is a place where I have stayed a lot over the last couple of years and where I often have a few meetings before I set off to the project site in Sulawesi. I was happy to see Rudy and Saga again, but we also have an exciting and challenging time ahead of us. This coming week marks the first of a very important period in Organic Cocoa Project La Galigo.
Friday, November 1: Departing for Saruran
Before my departure to Saruran I had two meetings at the hotel. The first meeting was with Ulil, a young man from Sulawesi who had just gotten his Master’s Degree in Development and Rural Innovation at the University of Wageningen. His holistic view on food production speak to me and working alongside people that share our vision as a Foundation could be valuable for the continuity and success of the project. After an interesting conversation we promised each other to stay in touch.
After meeting Ulil, I met up with Peni who works for Rikolto Indonesia. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to meet us at the project site, but we did meet up in Makassar and discussed the progress of the project and a potential collaboration with Rikolto Indonesia.
At 6 o’clock my cousins Yudi and Ester came pick us up. We left for Polewale where we spend the night in the village Saruran where Ester lives and where my grandmother comes from.
Saturday, November 2: Bin Rajj Farm and Road Tripping
The next morning we visited a couple of family members. Unfortunately, we were short on time and unable to visit everyone.
We also visited the education center Bin Rajj Farm where the production of cocoa is combined with keeping livestock such as goats and cows. The manure of these animals is being used to fertilize the land. It occured to us that there were no shade trees nor banana trees on the land which caused a noticeable difference in temperature in the area. During our visit we were able to see and taste different kinds cocoa varieties: One even better than the other!
They also showed us different grafting techniques. This was especially interesting for Saga who works on an organic fruit plantation in the Netherlands. Her daily duties consist of planting and grafting trees. At 1 o’ clock in the afternoon we continued our journey. We had a long way to go still and decided in the evening to spend the night in Palopo. We arrived at midnight.
Sunday, November 3: Arrival at Lauwo
After our breakfast we continued our journey and arrived in Lauwo around 1 o’clock in the afternoon. Already awaiting our arrival was Amir and he and his entire family gave us a warm welcome. A new baby has also just recently become part of the family: Baby Hilmiyah, the daughter of Ijah. She is adorable!
We agreed that we would spend the next 3 nights in the guest house. This way we would be able to work hard and take the necessary steps within this new project phase. I only have 5 nights to do all the things I have planned before my arrival. We must make an inventory of the current status of the model garden and organize a Garden Gathering with the local stakeholders. It is important to include the local government and rural services in the project.
Monday, November 4: An inventory of the model garden and meeting up with the Kelompok (local farmers group)
We rose early today to check upon the model garden. We started off by counting the rows of cocoa trees and then measured the distance between these trees. After that we had a look of what crops are growing in the first four rows of the garden and how the shade trees and banana trees were planted during our absence. We also planned on making a few aerial photographs with a drone, but after a couple of trial and errors, we decided to try it again later (it seems we still need to practice a little more).
After lunch we did a draw-up on what we had seen in the garden. I worked steadily on the overall map of the model garden whilst Saga and Rudy focussed on magnifying the first four rows so that we have good documentation on its current status. On the other side of the world, in the Netherlands, the agroforestry studygroup (a group of agroforestry enthusiasts connected to Anna’s Tuin en Ruigte in Amsterdam) was also consulted. Through their input and the input of the local farmers, we hope to establish the right design for the model garden. It is important to take into consideration the interaction of the different crops and trees. Planning out a model like this is crucial for the garden’s success.
After a bit of planning, we decided to continue making the design on another day. After all, for the Garden Gathering we still have a presentation to prepare.
After dinner we met up with the most influential farmers in the area (the kelompok or local farmer group). This group consists of pak Amir, ibu Fatimah, pak Haeruddin and pak Yusuf. We presented them the booklet Jiao had madeand Wati and ibu Yanti had translated into Indonesian. We also discussed the plans we had for the months to come. We fin dit important that the whole community, including the local government units and rural players are involved in the project. This is why we would like to introduce the third phase of Organic Cocoa Project La Galigo through a Garden Gathering.
In accordance with the Kelompok the Garden Gathering was planned on Wednesday afternoon. Because the event would take place on such short notice, we decided to visit all the parties in person to invite them. Incredibly exhausted, but content I get a good rest that night.
Tuesday, November 5: Inviting our guests and organizing the Gathering
After breakfast we headed to ibu Hadidjah, the coordinator of a rural organization in the division of Burau as well as pak Ibrahim, head of the village of Lauwo. We invited them personally for the Garden Gathering.
We only have one day to preparet he presentation. Unfortunately, the wifi-connection at the guest house did not support our plans for a labour-intensive afternoon. I decided calling Syawal (son of pak Amir). He works at a school and an IT-teacher in Angkona, a one hour drive away. Luckily, Yudi was able to bring us to the school where we could use the necessary IT-equipment necessary to finish our work. Whew!
In the evening we invited one more person to the Gatherhing Pak Muhammed, head of the subdivision of Burau. He was unable to come to the event. Therefore, he send a representative. He also invited Rudy and Saga toa biking event on Saturday. A great opportunity to meet up with Thoriq Hustler, to mingle with the locals and to explore the surroundings by bicycle.
Wednesday November 06: The Garden Gathering
We got up early and met up with ibu Fatima hand pak Amir. We brought all the things necessary to set up the event. When we arrived, they were already quite busy setting up poles to create a covered area where our guests could sit. Ibu Fatimah was busy making all the food and Rudy, Saga and I worked a little more on our presentation. Later that day Syawal helpe dus set up a beamer. The first guests arrived shortly after 1 o’clock. Pak Yusri, a volunteer who has supported the project since day one, also joined us. This was quite nice, because we would love to include on the long-run. A good 30 farmers arrive dat the Gathering amongst the others that were invited.
I thanked our guests for coming, introduced myself and tried my best to explain what our goals are as a Foundation. I also introduced Rudy and Saga to the group. I told them about everything we have achieved since the project has started in 2018 and that we have officially founded our Foundation with a team of volunteers and a board in the Netherlands. I told them we are busy gathering funds to ensure the project’s continuity and also show them the short clip we made a while ago when we organized a similar Gathering in the Netherlands. In the mean time, we invited the farmers to have a taste of the milk chocolate we brought from the Netherlands. The beans that originated from our model garden were processed into chocolate by Valentina Bosia.
After my introduction was time for Rudy to explain the benefits of agroforestry. He briefly explained the concept and we showed the farmers a short clip. He also explained what he is planning to do in the following months and invited anyone who was eager to learn about the agroforestry method to come and see him at the Kebun. We planned to organize a study group consisting of local farmers who would like to learn more about agroforestry.
After Rudy’s presentation the farmers were invited for a bite to eat and to join us to the Model Garden. This is where the questions started to well up. Farmers were asking about the principles of agroforestry and how this system could reduce diseases and pests. We explained that although the initial implementation of an agroforestry system is quite labour-intensive, it can have major benefits in on the long run.
Once we return home the day has already come to an end. Most people have already left, but we managed to take a good picture with those who sticked around until the very end.
Thursday, November 7: Making a planning for November and visiting relatives
This was the last day for me in Lauwo. I used it to make a planning with Rudy and Saga for the coming month. A long list of things that had tob e done and what is necessary in order to do it. Tools, trees, compost facilities, accommodation, an educational center, a model garden version 2.0, a water well, a compost toilet, the list goes on and on. While planning we realized, however, that the month of November is passing by very quickly. In December Rudy leaves for Jogja to study at an Institute for one month. Saga also has to step out briefly to prolong her visa. Afer that the agroforestry design will be implemented further.
In the afternoon I have made some time to visit my family in Angkona. Rudy and Saga joined me and as always their light skin and Western features a very interesting attraction to the locals.
At the end of the day I made sure I said my goodbyes and promised them that with God’s will I will return. Next time, hopefully a whole lot longer.
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