How does MARI Oceans work with farmers?
MARI Oceans strives to support the development of farm businesses, starting from providing seeds, capital, processing facilities, then providing information, and improving the skills of farmers. MARI also provides harvesting facilities, post-harvest processing, packaging facilities, and market integration. Finally, I hope that I will also have a planning section, which will provide additional benefits.
What problems do salt farmers face?
When farmers are asked, their first answer is capital, the second is related to the cost of seaweed and the third is infrastructure. Farmers also need better dryers, instead of drying seaweed in front of their house or on the road.
Technology is very important, especially to know the weather and water. Technology can also help us to adapt to the needs of the market, so that farmers can get business certainty. There is a need for real-time information to inform farmers what to expect and what to do.
There should also be a special government policy to finance weed farming. Policies should not only favor large companies, but also include the management of coastal areas.
Is using Xylem’s Ai1 sensor making a difference to your farmers?
Farming has many factors to consider. With the help of IoT devices, farmers can keep up with the changes – not every month or season, but every 15 minutes there are updates coming.
If farmers are educated about the factors that affect seaweed growth they can understand the data and make better decisions. For example, if the salt level is too low, they must know the types of diseases or pests that will appear and how to reduce this.
Farmers are very happy with this tool because it helps them predict, even when conditions are changing. What we need for future development is a tool capable of providing SMS notifications.
What did you learn from the internship at Bone?
Innovations that can improve the business and life of farmers, from money, health and education are still needed. We also need to make young people interested in this business. This is why we are pushing for innovation and innovation.
What is your daily routine like at Bone?
Meeting with farmers, discussing the development of their business, managing their land. I also cooperate with supporting institutions such as ATI, Makassar Polytechnic, Fisheries Polytechnic, Hasanuddin University, and the national government.
I think that later this area can become a fish reserve, which provides support for technology, education, research, and business. The community cannot do this alone, they need the help of other people, including the government.
What are the challenges of working with farmers?
Their understanding of good agriculture is still lacking. And it is difficult for them to join the group. They are also impatient, everyone wants immediate results. Also, they always feel that the government should help. But the government has its limits, so the people of the community should continue to work hard to manage what they can do around them, so that they can be successful and independent.
How did you get involved in the agricultural sector?
I am from the field of fish exploitation, where I learned about fishing methods, techniques and behavior of different types of fish. It also taught me that the problem of coastal areas is very serious, because going to the sea is very expensive and the risk is very high. There are many widows left at home and work is only seasonal. Because of these problems, we started to grow grass in the ponds.
We then developed a consultancy service, teaching other farmers how to grow seaweed and sell their products on a market-to-market basis.
In 2003 to 2004 I had an internship in Kalimantan, where I learned how to grow grass. When we were working there, through a WWF project, we tried to find an alternative way of making a living from destructive fishing methods. So, we encouraged the fishermen to grow grass instead. The potential of aquaculture in Indonesia is huge. We cannot rely on wild forests, farming is important.
How does MARI help close the gender gap?
For example, when it comes to business and finance, farmers’ wives are also involved. When women are involved in the business, payments for produce are made through a household account, which is usually managed by the women in the family. Insurance also covers women and children. About 70 percent of the work in the marine industry involves women – they make the ropes, draw the lines and dry the grass. MARI tries to calculate the cost that is appropriate for each service provided. Maybe later we will promote family accounting. We may also deal with business related health issues. Yesterday we bought gloves to protect the farmers’ skin from disease.
How do you see MARI changing over the next decade?
MARI can attract and become a symbol of the entire marine sector in Indonesia. Our SOPs are getting more and more acceptance and it is possible that thousands of farmers will join us. I still have the desire to harvest more than 1,000 tons of seaweed per month at the pilot farm operated by MARI Oceans.
MARI Oceans continues its growth journey with the areas of Bone, South Sulawesi, to join please contact email@example.com