Chilly, eggplants, peanuts, bananas, corn, bethel nuts… are some of the products planted, harvested and sold by a local cooperative not far from Waingapu.
Ibu Naomi is the founder and leader of the women’s cooperative consisting of 23 local ladies. Walking through the fields inbetween bits of jungle we could see what and how seeds were planted. Ningsih, one of the young women associated with the group had been delegated for a „Exposure Stube-HEMAT Jogjakarta“ with emphasis on handicraft and agriculture.
During her time on Java she learnt a lot about biological fertilisation and brought back plenty of hands on experience the cooperative is now benefitting from.
The dry season is a great challenge for the communities as it is a time of little income. The women’s cooperative tries to bridge that time by sharing in a „Arisan“ system whereby all pay once a month into a common pot and one woman gets to use the money to invest into something she needs it for. However, all get a chance to get the pot of money and they regulate that the draw for who gets the money does not favor just one.
We learnt about the onion principle… the cooperative bought 50 kg of seed onions and managed to harvest 150 kgs. Also they sold the kilo of onions for more per kg than they had bought it for. Profits were shared amongst all… a great joint venture.
Also the group enjoyed tasting and purchasing some of their products for on the road. Nothing better than freshly fried banana chips!
Little later, we moved on to a sort of traditional village.
We found out that the government intends to promote the traditional architecture and handicrafts in order to attract more tourists.
We met Wati, the sister of Abner, a Stube HEMAT Sumba participant, who continued the family tradition of weaving and dying with natural colors. It was quite surprising to see all the plants she used for dying. Indeed, there is a lot of manual labour and artistic as well as spiritual knowledge woven into the materials.
In the village, she is not the only one weaving and dying. unfortunately, not many tourists come to Sumba, but of course, some of us bought a piece from her and her neighbours to take back home.
Before we headed back to the hotel we had the opportunity to see Abners own project.
He took part in the exposure program in Jogjakarta where he learnt about field irrigation which he implemented in his family’s fields here.
In the afternoon we traveled for about an hour through an arid landscape full of rocks which made us to understand better Sumbas problem with the dry season: there is not enough water and not enough fertile land. However, even this landscape had its own beauty in this rainy season. What we didn’t expect to see were the many farm animals roaming freely on the roads and fields: dogs, cats, buffalo, horse, goats and pigs…
Along the way we also spotted mangrove swamps along the sea shore and learnt about their importance in protecting the land against erosion and exposure to the sea. We enjoyed a wonderful Indonesian meal near the beach… for the first time experiencing that side of Indonesia. So far we had only spotted the sea from afar.
Let us mention that the sea was lovely not just to look at… 🙂