President’s Working Visit in NTT: Jokowi greets Bamboo Mamas in Ngada

President’s Working Visit in NTT: Jokowi greets Bamboo Mamas in Ngada

In the midst of heavy rains that hit Ngada, the President of the Republic of Indonesia, Ir. H. Joko Widodo and First Lady Iriana Joko Widodo took the time to visit the Turetogo Bamboo Campus on Wednesday afternoon (1/6) and greet the Mama Bambu, women pioneers who have spearheaded the bamboo nursery and reforestation program in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT).

The nursery and reforestation program using bamboo is a collaboration between the NTT Provincial Government and the Environmental Bamboo Foundation (EBF). The program involved 388 Bamboo Mamas in 21 villages in 7 districts in Flores. In 2021, the Bamboo Mamas succeeded in propagating and caring for more than 2.5 million seedlings. The number of seedlings is sufficient to rehabilitate 72,000 hectares of critical land.

This program is part of a long-term effort to develop bamboo agroforestry villages in NTT. The Bamboo Agroforestry Village program uses bamboo as a conservation plant (restoring critical land, protecting water sources, preventing landslides, absorbing carbon) as well as a plant to improve the welfare of rural communities through the smallholder bamboo industry.

The presidential entourage arrived at the Turetogo Bamboo Campus in Ratogesa Village, Golewa District, at 15.20 WITA and was immediately greeted by EBF leaders, including EBF Chair, Arief Rabik, Executive Director Monica Tanuhandaru, Senior Adviser Noer Fauzi Rachman, Senior Adviser Sarah Lery Mboeik, and bamboo taxonomy expert Prof. Dr. Elizabeth Widjaja. Also present were Singgih Kartono, the creator of the Spedagi bamboo bicycle, the Regent of Ngada, Andreas Paru, the Governor of NTT, Viktor Bungtilu Laiskodat (VBL), and the Chair of the NTT PKK Mobilizing Team, Bunda Julie S Laiskodat. VBL and Bunda Julie are the main supporters of this bamboo nursery and reforestation program.

President Jokowi then listened to Arief Rabik’s explanation about laminated bamboo, a processed bamboo product that has a shape and strength similar to wood. With the potential of bamboo that NTT has, this province has the opportunity to become a center for producing laminated bamboo. The global market demand for laminated bamboo will continue to increase because laminated bamboo is a more sustainable, environmentally friendly and lower carbon alternative than wood.

President Jokowi then spent a long time talking with the nine Bamboo Mamas who were the representatives of Bamboo Mamas throughout Flores. Of these nine women, five are from Ngada and four are from Nagekeo.

“Mr. President asked about the number of seedlings we produce, the price of seedlings, how to propagate the seedlings, and how long it takes to maintain the seedlings until the each plant has 25 leaves,” said Wilhelmina Bhoki (51), a Bamboo Mama from Genamere Village, Bajawa.

Wilhemina Bhoki couldn’t hide her joy at meeting and conversing with Jokowi.

“I’m very happy, since I was born, this is the first time I’ve been able to meet Mr. President,” she said.

So happy, Wilhelmina and the other Bamboo Mama asked for an opportunity to take a photo with President Jokowi and the First Lady.

“We asked for a group photo, and I was next to the President, very proud,” she said with a smile.

In his conversation with EBF Senior Adviser Noer Fauzi Rachman, President Jokowi asked what support he could provide to encourage the creation of NTT as a center for community based bamboo industry. Noer Fauzi Rachman describes the need to have a National Bamboo Development Strategy to accelerate the creation of a people-based bamboo industry throughout Indonesia.

“Mr. President stated that he is ready to help and support these efforts,” said Noer Fauzi Rachman.

President Jokowi and his entourage left the Turetogo Bamboo Campus at 16.00 WITA.

The Turetogo Bamboo Campus was inaugurated in May 2021 and aspires to be a center for education, research, innovation, and cultural exchange about bamboo. So far, the Turetogo Bamboo Campus has carried out a number of educational activities and workshops on the nursery, planting and sustainable management of bamboo forests. The campus is equipped with a number of facilities, including a study building, lodging, bamboo preservation installations, bamboo gardens with local plants, as well as an example of the Sustainable Bamboo House building–a residence made of laminated bamboo with a knock-down system. Rumah Bambu Lestari can be an alternative for social housing, post-disaster temporary housing, public facility buildings, and tourist resorts.

EBF was founded in 1993 and has consistently campaigned for bamboo as an ecological solution and an economic solution in village development. Currently EBF is working with villagers in NTT, Bali, East Java, West Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan in developing bamboo agroforestry villages.

Bamboo Pioneers: Elizabeth Widjaja

Bamboo Pioneers: Elizabeth Widjaja

Elizabeth Widjaja, Indonesian Bamboo Researcher

Bamboo can only be grown in 80 countries. Indonesia has at least 176 species of bamboo out of a total of 1620 bamboo species in the world. 105 of those endemic species of bamboo in Indonesia cannot be found anywhere else in the world.

Although it has a huge wealth of bamboo, it turns out that Indonesia does not have many bamboo researchers. Professor Elizabeth Anita Widjaja is a pioneer and perhaps the only bamboo taxonomist in Indonesia. Since 1970, Elizabeth has identified at least 100 variants of 160 species of bamboo in Indonesia.

Elizabeth’s love for bamboo began when she was a student and was involved in research on grasses. Over time, Elizabeth discovered that bamboo is a magical species of grass that has many uses. Yes, you read that right, bamboo is actually a species of grass that can grow to a height of up to 30 meters. Like other grasses, all bamboo has a flexible stem texture and can bend easily.

The woman who gave names to bamboo

Elizabeth’s beginnings in the world of bamboo taxonomy began with research for her thesis. While researching black bamboo as the best bamboo species for making angklung (traditional musical instruments of West Java), she realized that there is only one scientific name for four different species of black bamboo. At that time black bamboo or Gigantochloa verticillata (Wild) Munro is the only name known for four different species: awi hideung, awi ater, awi gambong, and awi mayan.

Elizabeth then became more serious in studying bamboo taxonomy. Thanks to Elizabeth’s taxonomy, the four species of black bamboo were then given new names, some even being named after her last name. Awi ater became Gigantochloa atter, awi gombong became Gigantochloa pseudoarundinaceae (Steud) Widjaja, awi hideung became Gigantochloa atroviolacea Widjaja, and awi mayan was named Gigantochloa maxima (Poir) Kurz.

Until now, at least 160 species of bamboo have been identified and classified by Elizabeth. Of that number, 100 species are the results of her findings.

The importance of research for the use of bamboo in Indonesia

The use of bamboo in Indonesia is still not optimal because the government has not paid enough attention to bamboo. Many people think that bamboo is a weed because it is not easy to kill a bamboo clump.

Bamboo has a high survival rate. Even when burned, bamboo can still grow back. Even after experiencing drought during dry season, bamboo will grow again. The extraordinary resilience of bamboo means that it has excellent potential to be planted on dry and degraded lands.

​​”There are many opportunities for bamboo utilization such as for fiber, renewable energy, preventing erosion, for water conservation, and others. Therefore, we need more research on bamboo,” said Elizabeth.

Research is not only needed to find out the various benefits of bamboo, but also to invent better technology for its sustainable utilization and to increase the added value of bamboo.

“Until now, Indonesia has not carried out a detailed inventory of the bamboo population. Bamboo inventory data using drones and remote sensing is still not sufficient to provide information about the potential of bamboo. Especially if the bamboo lives underneath a tropical forest canopy.” The lack of information related to the bamboo stocks means we unable to know for sure how big the potential of bamboo for industry is in Indonesia.

Bamboo cultivation will not become a priority unless entrepreneurs in Indonesia feel the need for it. In fact, many industries in the world are starting to look at bamboo as a key raw material. For example, the textile fiber industry which has become more popular lately in Indonesia. Currently, Indonesian bamboo textile makers still rely on imported bamboo fibers.

Likewise, bamboo paper is very much in demand for painting. The price of bamboo paper is very expensive because it has high artistic value. Not to mention the benefits of bamboo for medical use. Research to uncover better technology in processing bamboo for various benefits is very much needed.

“I hope the use of bamboo can be increased but it must be balanced with better knowledge and technology to support sustainable utilization,” said Elizabeth.

The capacity of the bamboo industry must be calculated carefully, including the availability of bamboo raw materials. Bamboo cultivation is very important to ensure its availability for the industry and of course for its ecological and land conservation role. Agricultural technology research is needed to support bamboo cultivation for industry.

For Elizabeth’s dedication and achievements in the world of bamboo taxonomy, she received various awards, including The Best Young Scientist from LIPI in 1997, Satya Lencana Karya Satya in 1997 and 1998, Bintang Jasa Utama from the President of the Republic of Indonesia in 2000, and the Harshberger Medal by the Society of Ethnobotanists, India in 2001.

Starting out right: Replacing plastic seed bags with a green alternative

Starting out right: Replacing plastic seed bags with a green alternative

If planted with care, a bamboo seedling has the potential to restore degraded land, mitigate climate change, and generate income for rural communities. Unfortunately, however, like most other young plants, they are usually wrapped in a material that is causing a global pollution crisis: plastic.

Practical, strong and inexpensive, the small black plastic bags known as polybags are used to protect and transport delicate young seedlings. They are a common sight on any landscaping or restoration project — including those supported by the Environmental Bamboo Foundation.

Recognizing that it was time to make a change and reduce consumption of plastic polybags, in 2021 EBF began collaborating with women’s empowerment organizations in Flores, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), to produce an environmentally-friendly alternative made of natural fibers. 20 villages in seven districts in Flores are part of EBF’s Bamboo Village program, and last year their goal was to produce 2.8 million bamboo seedlings — a green alternative to the plastic polybags was urgently needed.

NTT has long been home to a rich weaving tradition, and woven textiles play a vital role in cultural life. This meant ripe ground for the production of a viable, biodegradable woven seedling bag made from natural fibers commonly found in Flores.

In Nginamanu Village in Ngada Regency, EBF collaborated with Du Anyam — a social enterprise empowering and improving the health of women in rural areas through the production of beautiful woven products — to guide bamboo farmers in the weaving of polybags made from bamboo fiber.

In Du Village in Sikka Regency, bamboo farmers now weave polybags from the fibers of banana trunks and coconuts, as well as from coconut palm leaves. As part of its push towards biodegradable polybags, EBF is also mapping areas with plentiful natural fiber resources across NTT.

Arief Rabik, President Director of EBF, has emphasized that the environmentally-friendly polybag innovation will eventually be implemented in the 20 villages participating in EBF’s bamboo plantation and reforestation programs across Flores.

“Gradually, we will replace plastic polybags with natural fiber polybags. This year we are aiming for 10 percent of all polybags used to be made from natural fibers,” he said. “The use of natural fibers will also have a positive impact by strengthening the handicraft industry in villages and providing additional economic opportunities for natural fiber weavers.”

About Du Anyam: 

Working closely with the talented women artisans of Indonesia, Du Anyam creates wicker products through the most authentic craftsmanship. With the goal of economically empowering and improving the health of these women in rural areas around Indonesia, Du Anyam is a brand built upon the values of its founders.

The three pillars of Du Anyam are: Empower Women, Promote Culture, and Improve Livelihood.

Mama Bambu Nurture Love for Bamboo while Preserving Heritage

Mama Bambu Nurture Love for Bamboo while Preserving Heritage

At the end of 2020 the Environmental Bamboo Foundation implemented a bamboo nursery program that places women at the center. We started with something very simple: we wanted to share our experiences about how to grow bamboo. At that time, women who wanted to learn about bamboo or grow bamboo seedlings became our first partners. What started as simple turned out to be a leap of thought and hope among the women, later known as Mama Bambu (Bamboo Mamas).

The Meaning of Land and Bamboo for Ngada Women (an introduction)

Ngada culture adheres to a matrilineal system. In a matrilineal society, the successors of the mother’s line are seen as very important. As a result, family relationships are much closer and more pervasive among residents who are descended from the maternal line.

Traditionally, Ngada women are entrusted with the right to control Ngia Ngora (customary land) and Napu Bheto (bamboo forest). So caring for the bamboo clumps also means caring for ancestral heritage, preserving customs, and conserving ecology for all generations.

When the Ngada woman defends her bamboo forest, she is not only doing it for herself. For Ngada women, taking care of bamboo means protecting her community and future generations from destruction.

The Mama Bambu program not only provides space for women to be physically present in every decision-making regarding bamboo conservation and utilization in Ngada, but more than that Mama Bambu presents the views and values ​​of sustainable use of bamboo.

Celebrating International Women’s Day in Bangka Wela

With slightly trembling hands, Maria Danus held a piece of paper containing a welcoming speech that she had prepared together with some of the caretakers of a bamboo farmer group for the commemoration of international women’s day. Being the chairman of the committee was Maria Danus’ first experience and delivering a speech in front of village guests was something that had never crossed her mind. “I was very nervous when I read the speech. But I am proud to be able to carry out my duties for International Women’s Day with the other women,” said Maria Danus.

The first International Women’s Day commemoration was held in Bangka Wela Village following the success of the Balang Leca Bamboo Farmer Group in producing 8,000 bamboo seedlings in no more than 3 months. In this activity, the Belang Leca bamboo farmer group invited the village community, representatives of BKSDH (Forest Resource Conservation Center) and FMU (Forest Management Unit), as well as farmer groups from neighboring villages to plant bamboo seeds around a spring in Bangka Wela village.

“We are very happy to commemorate Women’s Day and proud of ourselves for doing many things and getting a lot of knowledge,” said Liana Wati Hayati, secretary of the Balang Leca Bamboo Farmer Group. The whole series of events to commemorate international women’s day was organized by the Belang Leca Group. “We divide the tasks, there are those who take care of food, cleanliness, lead the prayers, sing the PKK (women’s organization) song, and prepare bamboo seeds to be planted,” added Liana.

The Belang Leca Bamboo Farmer Group is a partner of the Environmental Bamboo Foundation in a family-based bamboo nursery program in Bangka Wela Village, Ngada Regency, East Nusa Tenggara. Because the nursery activities are family-based, in carrying out various activities, family members work together and share roles.

“Finding bamboo seeds is difficult and takes a long time. That’s why we share roles. The fathers went to the bamboo forest to collect bamboo branches, the children filled the soil into polybags, and the women chose seedlings, planted them in polybags, and kept them in the nursery,” explained Antonia Mbue, head of the Balang Leca group.

By sharing roles, nursery work becomes lighter and faster to complete. “At first, we thought we could only produce 2,000 bamboo seedlings because the time was short,” said Antonia. “However, after successfully producing 2,000 seedlings within a month, we became more confident and then committed to producing 6,000 seedlings in the following month,” continued Antonia.

In less than three months, the Belang Leca bamboo farmer group succeeded in producing 8,000 seedlings. These seeds will later be planted on critical lands in Ngada Regency, East Nusa Tenggara once they are strong enough.

Knowledge Sharing Among Mama Bambu

Every month the Bamboo Mamas who are members of the Belang Leca bamboo farmer group hold an arisan (community savings gathering). The purpose of the arisan is to save and share the good practices of each group member.

The arisan event is held in turns, from one Bamboo Mama’s house to another. Every Mama will share good practices on how to care for and produce good seeds. Each group member may ask questions and share experiences. For example, the soil in polybags should not be too dense or the seedlings should not be planted too deep.

The Mama Bambu program not only focuses on economics and conservation but also builds the confidence of its members. “The Mama Bambu Arisan is an initiative of the Balang Leca Bamboo Farmer Group which indirectly trains their ability to speak in public, think critically and express opinions in group discussions”, explained Septiani Maro, Coordinator of Manggarai Regency.

Bamboo Money Strengthening the Role of Bangka Wela Women

This family-based nursery program in Bangka Wela also applies an ecological fiscal transfer in which each member of a bamboo farmer group receives an aid of 2,500 rupiah for each successful seedling. Within three months of implementing the family-based nursery program, the Balang Leca bamboo farmer group received a total of 15 million rupiah. The money received is used for various needs of Mama Bambu families, most of which is for the education of their children.

Antonia Mbue admitted that the money she received was used to finance her child who is studying Pharmacy in Malang, East Java. “I am very proud of the results of our hard work in this program because our economic condition is now better. We can send our children to school with bamboo money. If we didn’t have this activity, we might have become workers in Kalimantan,” said Antonia.

When women become the center, and are not only seen as beneficiaries of a program such as this family-based nursery, a Mama Bambu can play a role in deciding the use of money for family members. Moreover, in the community, the success of a family-based bamboo nursery has made Bangka Wela village proud and has ensured the Bamboo Mamas’ roles will be taken into account during decision-making in the village.

Introduction text by Yuvensius Stephen Nonga

Integrating Gender Issues in Agrarian Reform and Social Forestry

Integrating Gender Issues in Agrarian Reform and Social Forestry

A webinar was held on 13 April 2022 to discuss strategies for integrating gender issues into agrarian reform and social forestry programs and policies.

This webinar aimed to identify problems and challenges in the implementation of agrarian reform and social forestry, obtain information and lessons learned from good practices in integrating GESI strategies in the implementation of agrarian reform and social forestry, and formulate strategies for accelerating the implementation of gender-responsive agrarian and social forestry reforms.

Yayasan Bambu Lestari took part in this webinar and shared good practice and strategies for integrating gender issues into its activities in East Nusa Tenggara.

A total of 48.8 million Indonesians live in forest areas. 10.2 million of them live below the poverty line and depend on forest resources for their lives. Agrarian conflicts and land disputes are issues that are often experienced by people living in or around forest areas.

There are at least two triggers for the agrarian conflict: the lack of precise laws and policies governing agrarian issues, both related to views on land, land status and ownership, land rights, as well as methods for obtaining land rights; and inaction and injustice in the process of resolving land disputes, which ultimately lead to conflict.

The government seeks to narrow the inequality of land tenure and ownership through the agrarian reform program, a national priority program to develop Indonesia from the margins and improve the quality of life of the people. There are three forms of agrarian reform:  asset legalization, land redistribution, and social forestry.

Agrarian reform is also the answer to strengthening the space for land management by women. Their involvement and role in the form of a management space will greatly help improve the community’s economy.

Equal participation is a form of gender justice in the development process, including through social forestry by taking into account the experiences, needs, and barriers experienced by men and women. Therefore, gender integration in agrarian reform and social forestry should be able to ensure equal participation and rights between women and other community members by considering the important role of women in realizing sustainable forest management.

“This requires working together and synergizing efforts to create a women-friendly and child-friendly Indonesia. We ask for your support on how to accelerate the integration of gender issues into the context of agrarian reform and social forestry,” said the Deputy for Gender Equality at the Ministry of Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection (PPPA), Lenny N. Rosalin, S.E., M.Sc., M.Fin.

Gender mainstreaming has been reflected in the general policies and technical operational policies of social forestry within the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, so that a greater role for women in social forestry is made possible in the regulations.

“Until now, about 1 million households have access to social forestry and 141,000, or 13% of them, are women. We hope that in the future the number can increase to 30 to 40 percent.” said the Director-General of Social Forestry and Environmental Partnerships of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Dr. Ir. Bambang Supriyanto.

Suggested steps to achieve gender equality and social inclusion in agrarian reform and social forestry policies and programs include:
1. Critically examining the substance of a series of policies and programs and their implementation to find out the position in the GESI mainstreaming stage
2. The position in that stage of empowering women, vulnerable groups and marginal people
3. Overcoming various sources of barriers to the participation of women, vulnerable and marginalized groups so that empowering participation can be realized
4. Create the basis for building more equal power relations
5. Encourage equal decision-making (control) processes.

Gender Equality and Social Forestry: our experience with Mama Bambu in NTT

At the end of 2020 the Environmental Bamboo Foundation implemented a bamboo nursery program that places women at the center. These women pioneers are known as Mama Bambu ( Bamboo Mamas).

We started with something very simple: bamboo. At first, we wanted to share our experiences about how to grow bamboo. At that time, women who wanted to learn about bamboo or grow bamboo seedlings became our first partners.

What started as simple turned out to be a leap of thought among Mama Bambu: if we plant bamboo, we take care of the environment, and if we plant bamboo, we will have a source of bamboo not only for our daily needs but it can be legacy for our next generation.

In 2021, 388 Mama Bambu managed to produce 2.5 million bamboo seedlings. This number of seedlings can be planted on an area of ​​72,000 hectares for both ecological purposes (restoration of critical land, conservation of water resources, prevention of landslides, carbon sequestration) and economic purposes (material resources for industry/bamboo crafts).

The success of this nursery program shows that women are able to take an active role at the forefront of environmental conservation efforts as well as participate in the adaptation and mitigation of climate change. Women must also be given a main role in the Social Forestry schemes.

The Mama Bambu experienced increased knowledge about environmental conservation, gained new skills in making bamboo seedlings and natural fiber polybags, and are able to use digital media to find and exchange information. We distributed smartphones and provided training on how to use them.

There was an increase in economic capacity and financial control among Mama Bambu, all of whom received an incentive of Rp.2500/seedling which is a source of additional income for families experiencing economic difficulties due to the COVID-19 Pandemic and Typhoon Seroja. We facilitated the creation of individual bank accounts for each Mama Bambu so that they have direct access and control over the incentives they receive.

Increased knowledge and new sources of income gave each Mama Bambu the confidence to be actively involved in decision-making processes at the family and village levels. In various dialogues with government officials, including the District Head (Bupati) and Governor, each Mama Bambu was able to clearly describe what they had achieved.

 

5 things we’d like to share from March 2022

5 things we’d like to share from March 2022

In a month celebrating World Water Day and International Day of Forests, we are very aware of the incredible benefits bamboo agroforestry can bring to degraded landscapes. Did you know that one clump of bamboo can hold over 5,000 liters of water in the topsoil?

5 THINGS WE’D LIKE TO SHARE
We’re excited to share some of the highlights from the last month, including news from the wider community.

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Time with the Minister for Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises: Grateful to have had valuable time with Pak Teten Masduki to talk about bamboo. Pak Teten has been very supportive of our efforts to create a bamboo restoration economy. Here he is with Arief Rabik at a recent exhibition.

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Very proud that our Board’s Chairman Arief Rabik was appointed to the Advisory Board of the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration. The Board’s main objective is to offer relevant perspectives and schools of thought in response to the challenges of implementing the UN Decade, as well as inspire and amplify the UN Decade’s goals through diverse channels and networks.

3//
The amazing people at Petersham Nurseries in the UK are running a fundraiser for our Bamboo Village Initiative. Each restaurant will be adding a cover charge in support of 1000 Bamboo Villages to help restore 2 million hectares of degraded land in Indonesia through a village-based bamboo industry.

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The Indonesian Ministry of Environment and Forestry is preparing for the G20 meeting with activities supporting the Climate Change Working Group. Watch to find out more.

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Can indigenous knowledge help us design a more sustainable future? Financial Times features the work of IBUKU and its bamboo architecture.