Sajari, a young farmer, has a unique story to tell about pepper. He is born in the village of Pinang Sebatang (Sumatra) and has been closely acquainted with pepper since his childhood, raised in a farming family. For him, pepper is not only an agricultural crop, but it is also a way to learn more about farming. Owning a second pepper plantation is a dream of Sajari.
Equipped with the knowledge, gained from helping his parents, Sajari started his first pepper plantation in 2004. With the traditional expertise learned from his parents, it became easier to cultivate and manage the plantation. For years, he dreamed of opening a second agricultural plantation designed by using an agroforestry system. This system simulates the natural situation in which mixed crops are planted. The yield of his farm will allow him to fulfill his basic needs.
“My dream is to grow pepper and other crops on my plantation, and have a cattle farm and fishpond too, which will allow me to fulfill all of my life’s basic needs. I’d like to spend my old age in a house built in the middle of this plantation.”
Despite having other sources of income, Sajari’s primary interest remains growing pepper in Indonesia. In July 2019, Sajari’s dream has been realized as he started his second plantation.
Changing times, changing methods
In 16 years of farming, Sajari has noticed many changes in the pepper cultivation system. Today, farmers must use a variety of inputs to maintain a certain level of productivity. This transformation can be attributed to the changing and unpredictable climate in Bangka over the years (more erratic rainfall patterns, longer periods of drought and unpredictable growing seasons). The change in climate could have considerable consequences for agriculture. For example, the dry season in 2019 lasted longer than usual and it caused droughts in many plantations. The plantation of Sajari was able to withstand the long dry season as he utilized various traditional methods that aided his pepper plants to survive.
Searching for more information
Sajari used a variety of information sources such as, agricultural extension workers, attending trainings organized by PT CAN and exchanging information with other farmers.
“I know that not all of the information I receive is reliable or even relevant to pepper farming, so I always hoped that one day there will be a platform that can provide specific pepper-related information and gives advice to farmers. A platform like this can help farmers maintain their plantations, and as long as the pepper plant survives longer, farmers won’t switch to other crops.”
Sajari also mentioned one of the major difficulties in running a plantation. This is the lack of access to financial capital to expand and optimize the farm.
“Nowadays, I keep a record of everything I do on the plantation to better plan for care and cultivation activities. The current process for getting additional capital is long and complicated, which makes me hesitant to apply. It would be very helpful for farmers to have a platform that can aid in the application process and support our access to the banking system to ease the transaction process when buying/selling pepper.”
Similar responses regarding the challenges they face in their plantations were collected from various farmers across the region. To give farmers what they need, SpiceUp has included services such as pest and disease modeling, banking information, as well as buying/selling prices in their application.