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Working towards bumper harvests sustainably

By: GAR Posted: May 14, 2017 125 views

Budin Nur Nasution, Farmer Trainer, 46 years old, Kampar

“Whenever there’s a question about new farming methods, everyone says, “Ask Budin!” As a farmer trainer with Golden Agri-Resources (GAR), I’m usually the first to learn about new farming techniques that could help our smallholder farmers improve their harvests.

There are about 67,000 smallholder farmers that own plantations located around GAR’s estates. We help them increase their productivity without harming the environment by providing high-yielding seeds, fertiliser, and training in good agriculture practices (GAP).

Budin showing farmers how to put protective gear on correctly.
Budin showing farmers how to put protective gear on correctly.

Modernisation may seem like an obvious choice but getting farmers to adopt the latest irrigation and fertilisation techniques in order to be more productive is not that straightforward. Many of the farmers have been here for decades, working the land with traditional methods. Most of them are cautious about trying something new, and it takes months to change their minds.

One group of farmers saw the value in mechanical fertilisation but did not want to take income away from their workers. Other farmers that do use the techniques I teach them, harvest too early because they are under pressure to service outstanding debt. It takes a lot time and effort to build trust and convince the farmers that there are ways to balance their concerns.

Budin explaining to farmers the right way to apply fertiliser.
Budin explaining to farmers the right way to apply fertiliser.

I spend a lot of time with the village cooperative, Koperasi Unit Desa, to build a closer relationship and to understand what the farmers are really going through. We will talk about the benefits of the company’s programmes occasionally because hard selling does not work here. Slow and steady wins the race, and that is how I approach my work now.

I have seen the farmers and cooperatives benefit in the span of a single harvest cycle. With better plot maintenance and fertilisation, and better-quality harvests, the farmers have increased their earnings to IDR 5 to 6 million per lot. Today, their yields are among the highest in the industry.

Despite the challenges, I love my work because working the land with the farmers is my passion—knowing that I had a hand in helping them have better livelihoods is a great feeling.”

Read about how GAR is supporting plasma and smallholder farmers through the Innovative Financing Scheme.

Click here to discover more stories behind the extraordinary, everyday lives of the people transforming palm oil.