Save our environment through active participation of local people
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The projectThis project consists of two parts. Firstly, the GIS system, which stands for geographical information system. Students provide a network of measurements. Amongst others, the soil is examined for its composition and possible pollution and the climate is mapped by location. This creates an topographical image of soil types and climate that is displayed in a 3 dimensional satellite map.
Then we examine which farmers work on a each piece of land and we collect data about the farming through a series of interviews. Farmers are asked what they have grown and what the proceeds and problems (e.g. crop diseases) were. This results in an image of which crops do best at which place and at what time. We store this information in the GIS database and together with scientific insights it will be used to determine an optimal cultivation: which crops, when and where.
The second part of this project concerns the Mapalus, which stands for ' doing together '. Traditionally farmers cultivate the land in the region 'Minahasa ' together. A farmer works on his land, meanwhile singing, together with a group of farmers from the area. The next day the group moves on to cultivate someone else's land. This method ensures shared responsibility, solidarity and higher production.
The GIS Mapalus project connects to these local values. Farmers can become members of this project, where Masarang coordinates planting of crops. On the basis of the GIS database Masarang determines which farmer will grow which crop. By coordinating the production of all farmers we achieve that local consumers always can buy a diverse range of vegetables on the market and that no overproduction of a given crop arises (= a bad price).
In addition, on the basis of the knowledge of Masarang the production is increased by planting certain crops together. It concerns plants that positively influence each other's development, for example by providing each other with nutrients, optimally capture sunlight together or to protect each other against diseases. Lastly, the coordination ensures that crops on a particular piece of land are rotated so they produce ecologically in an optimal way. For example, a farmer will be requested (following from the GIS system) not to plant tomatoes after potatoes because they are sensitive to the same fungi. Better plant corn instead because that needs less potassium which was used up by the potato, but it needs more nitrogen that is still nicely stocked in the ground after potatoes. We could then plant beans to make up for the loss of nitrogen through their symbiotic root nodules and after that it is again safe again for the tomatoes because the potato specific pathogenic fungi are now gone from the soil.
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- Thousands of farmers now work in this project where the total production and income for the farmers is increased by efficient agriculture but also by coordinating who grows what so no overproduction arises. The farming methods are also more environmentally friendly.
- The region produces more vegetables than it needs so the surplus can be exported, for example, to Papua an Java. Masarang determines the planting time of crops so farmers can harvest a particular product on the same day and the entire production of the cooperative is transported via a waiting truck and ship. This saves storage costs and by economies of scale the transport costs per farmer are lower.
- Solidarity and cooperation among the farmers is strengthened
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Plans and needsWe want to collect more data on agricultural production and expand the GIS; 100 students who are working for 6 weeks interviewing farmers, process feedback and enter and analyze data. For this work extra computers are needed. Furthermore we need additional satellite images. All this must also become a part of the curriculum of the ITM University (University established by Willie Smits that enables poorer students to complete an agricultural or technical study). This project covers about 15,000 hectares and 10,000 families and will cost about EUR 115,000. It can become a wonderful example project and yield a multiple of this investment for the environment and the people.
Bruno Roy Watulangkow
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