Fellow Since 2012
Bali Tekno Hayati Foundation
This description of Suprio Guntoro's work was prepared when Suprio Guntoro was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2012.
The New Idea
By filling the gap in access to appropriate technology, Guntoro is enabling a system for coffee farmers to develop their diversified agribusinesses, the government transforms they way they provide the services, and farmer prepareyoung people as farmers’ future generation. Departing from impoverishment due to the downfall of global coffee prices, Guntoro engages farmers to apply new farming system techniques that diversifies crop commodities, integrates multiple species and recycles livestock and crop waste. Not only that it gives economic values through farmers’ productivity and efficiencyandecologically sustainable, it also lowers the risk of farming (disease attacks, price fluctuation, etc) and provides adaptation and mitigation measures adjusting to the climate change.For example, in the village in Bali where he is piloting, farmers now combine growing coffee as the annual crop and ginger as the seasonal crops in the hedgerow. They also breed goats to integrate into the farming system where the goat manure is fermented to become crop fertilizers, pesticides and biogas. Coffee leaves from pruning are used for goats’ feed. Thisclosed production cycle mechanism can also be applied to other combinations such as rice paddy-fish-cows, coffee-goats-bees, cashew nuts-corn-goats, or cows-ducks-rice paddy. By applying this new practice, farmers have now gained 1,500 folds of income from only 200 thousands to 2,9 million IDR per month. Guntoro has also facilitated farmers to become pioneer farmers or local agents of change. Farmers engage other fellow farmers through training run by farmers themselves to replicate the model in other areas. The farmers also train high school students to cultivate future farmers as a strategy of reverse urbanization. Guntoro is also working with the farmers to develop agro-tourism program inviting wider public to be exposed to and learn about the application of the appropriate technology. Currently 4,000 farmers spread across Bali already applied the model and at least 1,000 farmers voluntarily came to learn at the farmers’ training centre. Detaching from the loan sharks, farmers now run their farmers’ groups. There are already 200 groups where farmers do collective marketing and pricing. Together with the farmers group, Guntoro is currently working on obtaining export commodity certificate so that farmers can get the export price for the coffee.The model, which is called by the government Simantri program,has now been adopted by the Bali provincial Agriculture office and is already replicated in 150 villages across Bali, with 200 new villages for this year’s target. In partnership with the Directorate General of Agriculture in Jakarta Guntoro has started to introduce and spread his ideas throughout Indonesia, among othersto the provinces of South and West Sulawesi, West Sumatera, Lampung, Bengkulu, Aceh, and others.
Approximately 70 per cent of Indonesia’s population lives in rural areas, where agriculture is the main source of income. Nonetheless, 16.6 per cent of rural people are poor compared with 9.9 per cent of urban populations. Millions of small farmers, farm workers and fishers are materially and financially unable to tap into the opportunities offered by Indonesia’s years of economic growth. They are often geographically isolated and lack access to appropriate technology, agricultural extension services, markets and financial services. Most small-scale coffee growersin Bali own 1-1,5 hectares of land with most or all of it dedicated to coffee production. Coffee is a long-term investment for most growers as it takes 3-5 years for a coffee tree to bear fruit and they remain productive for 30-100 years depending on the variety and local soil and climatic conditions. Nonetheless, most farmers are trapped in mono-cropping practice where scarcity of land and lack of knowledge and resources to diversify has left them extremely vulnerable to coffee price fluctuations on the global market. During 1999-2003 the coffee price (Robusta) went down drastically to one third of the regular price. The provincial government anticipated the drop of the coffee prices by introducing goats as an alternative income. Unfortunately, the government did not provide the farmers with the knowledge needed to take care ofand breed the goats. Due to miss-breeding management, which resulted to smaller and weaker kids,when the goats caught scabies, most of them died. In other coffee growing areas, the drop of the coffee price has swayed farmers into changing coffees with seasonal crops. Nonetheless, the new seasonal crop farming practice has resulted flooding and landslides in rainy season and drought in the dry season. The roots of the seasonal crops could not hold the soil strong enough compared to coffee trees. The shift of the farming practice will further jeopardize water scarcity for irrigation and clean water, not only for the surrounding communities but also the cities. The problems the farmers face in productivity has been in the application of conventional farming model, which is a result of the green revolution that even though has increased the farmers welfare, has led the farmers to heavily rely on external inputs.They have to buy fertilizers, pesticides, seedlings and feed from other islands, which is not cheap and often difficult to get. The government then introduced the techno farming system intensifying various farming technologies. However,the model was highly risked. Besides only focused on one dominant commodity, the model put aside the sustainability of the agricultural natural resources. The government also introduced a harvesting technique that requires water to wash the coffee beans. Yet, the technique was not appropriate, as there was not enough water available. Alternatively, civil society organizations promoted theeco-farming model that applies traditional technology to conserve species biodiversity and sustainable environment. Alas, the model resulted to low land productivity and thus lessened the profit of the farmers.
Since the 1999 big coffee harvest in Vietnam, coffee prices have dropped to IDR 3,500 per kilogram. Many coffee farmers wanted to change their coffee with seasonal plants such as crops, vegetables, and other horticulture plants. If this happened, then the region’s function as rain absorbent area will be destroyed and the other natural resources will not function properly. To preserve this preservation, the community’s economy needs to be built by lengthening the ecosystem change of their main commodity, which is coffee. When first heard the news about the drop of the coffee prices, Guntoro, who at that time was already a researcher at BPTP Bali (Agency for the Assessment and Agriculture Technology), approached the farmers in Busung Biu Sub District on his own will and introduced the ecological techno farming that he had been developing. As the first model, he integrated coffee as the local product in the area and goat in Bongancina Village in 1999-2003.In 2004, he spread his ideas to Sepang and Pucuksari Village. All three villages are under BusungBiuSubdistrict, Buleleng. Since most of the goats that were aid from the government had died, he boughtEtawa goats from Java. He trains farmers a zero waste system that is actually a closed production cycle. The wastes from the plants are made into feed for the cattle or fertilizers for other plants, while waste from the cattle is processed into fertilizers, pesticides, and biogas.In the implementation,all this is supported by applied technology combining well-planned adaptation and mitigation. Once this succeeded, the farmers became self sufficient, they did not need to buy fertilizers or pesticides from outside the island. This model is applicable for other types of species integration. For example, in other villages the integration is paddy, fish and cow or cashew nuts, goat and corn. The coffee-goat farmers besides producing coffee have now produced goat meat, goat milk, goat milk soap and goat milk snacks.This integrative model besides maintaining the diversity of the species also increases the farmers’ income and minimizes the farming risk. To optimize the local resources, advanced technology is needed as a support. Therefore, Guntoro continues to innovate the means of support such as prebiotic (to turn plant waste into feed), fermentors to process cattle waste into manure, biological pesticides, and inoculants to produce bio fuel.Guntoro means for this techno ecological model to become an alternative model in the next green revolution, to perfect the shortfall of the first green revolution.To spread his idea, he made the successful farmers into agents of change. These agents are given a “Road Map” that is a guide for spreading his ideas. Their lands are made into models for tenology application and their houses have become a centre for information and training. A farmers group is also formed, to share knowledge and help the distribution for the farmers. Besides being able to get profit from their goat products, the coffee quality has also increased due to the fertilizers made through this model.Guntoro is now in the process of helping the farmers to get an international certification for the coffee, since other countries approached the farmers to buy their high quality coffee.Once this program succeeded, Guntoro approached the Bali provincial government and has managed to persuade them to use his model throughout Bali. The government approved the model in 2009 and named the program Simantri. In 2011, 150 villages have applied this model and in 2012 their target is 200 villages. The villages in Bali that have not been reached by the Simantri program have come themselves to BusungBiu to learn about the model at the training centre. Guntoro has also been approached by other provincial governments outside Bali who are interested in learning and adopting the model. He has worked together with the Directorate General of Plantation in Jakarta to further spread his ideas throughout Indonesia.His next concern is the young generation. As a tourism island, Bali’s tourism industry has grown rapidly. The lure of this industry has also affected the young generations in the villages. They tend to leave their villages to work in the hotel industry, leaving agriculture behind. To deal with this issue, Guntoro had the idea to turn Busung Biuinto an agro tourism village. Guntoro plans for Busung Biu to become a learning experience for the younger generation, so they could learn to love agriculture and make agriculture attractive for them. Together with the farmers, he approached a high school near Busung Biu and made a curriculum for an extracurricular activity in the school. The students involved come once a week to the village to learn about ecological techno farming. They help the farmers around the farm and learn more about the ecological techno farming and the different opportunities it presents.In the future, he plans to approach more schools to be involved in these extracurricular activities. His main goal is to create more jobs and reversed urbanization, where people come back to their villages to help develop their village. This way, farmers and their land become sustainable.
Guntoro comes from a big family of seven children. His father was a tobacco farmer in Jember, East Java. Because his family was struggling in his teenage years, he then followed his uncle toLombok. After high school, he lived with his brother in Bali for a while. He then lived with the head of a Subak (Bali traditional governance system) for two years, where he became involved again in farming. He taught the farmers how to use a tractor and water pump. In 1978, he chose to study in the Faculty of Agriculture so he could be close to the farmers. He has had several jobs related to agriculture before he joined BPTP in 1998. He enjoys his work as a Researcher because it fits his personality that loves challenges,doing exploration and trial and error. As a researcher, he wants to create as much technology as possible that can be useful for the farmers and other communities. Many of his innovations have been granted a patent. Some of his innovations he did not sell, but he chose to give it to the farmers for free, until they can become independent. In implementing the Simantri program, there have been bumps in the road. Many obstacles had to be faced, especially from the farmers themselves who are not familiar with the industry culture. Perseverance and patience was needed to convince the people of the benefits that can be gained. To lobby the private sector and the government to support the technical facilities needed in this program, Guntoro has managed to mobilize his colleagues as civil workers to be willing to work beyond their duties and responsibilities To support his work, Guntoro founded Bali Tekno Hayati, a civil society organization in 2003, to help spread his ideas. He has received several awards for his work, including “outstanding researcher” from the Agriculture Department in 2004,“Best Primatani Agribusiness Laboratory Manager in 2007, and was named one of the 45 innovative people of 2010by the Kompas Daily Newspaper. His latest reward was “Extraordinary Intellectual Gift” by the Ministry of Agriculture. As a researcher he has an obsession to invent as much technology as possible as to help the farmers and the people in general. He realized that without forming this ecological techno agriculture model, Bali farmers would live deep in poverty and they would find other ways to sustain their lives, even if it meant destroying the environment. As an environmentalist researcher, Guntoro has found a way to link ecology and economy, therefore sustaining both the environment and the farmers’ lives.