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Story Publication logo August 29, 2022

The Collapse of Kalimantan's Dayak Food Barns (bahasa Indonesia)


people walk through fields

The food estate project in Kalimantan, which was revived to respond to the crisis since the Covid-19...

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Multiple Authors

This story excerpt was translated from bahasa Indonesia. To read the original story in full, visit Kompas. You may also view the original story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website here. Our website is available in English, Spanish, bahasa Indonesia, French, and Portuguese.

The tradition of farming, practised for thousands of years by the Dayak people in Central Kalimantan, is coming to an end due to the ban on land burning. In fact, farming is their source of livelihood and cultural identity.

JAKARTA, KOMPAS—The farming tradition practised for thousands of years by the Dayak people in Central Kalimantan is coming to an end due to the ban on clearing fields by burning. Not only weakening food security, the cessation of farming has caused a multidimensional crisis in rural areas.

Kompas conducted special coverage to find out about the local food system in Central Kalimantan and the opportunities and risks of the food estate project which was prepared as a substitute for the ban on farming by burning. The results of the coverage were published in a series of articles.

In addition to observations and interviews with stakeholders in the field from July 15-28, 2022, surveys were conducted in three villages where the food estate project is being expanded, namely Kalumpang (Mantangai District, Kapuas Regency); Pilang (Jabiren Raya District, Pulang Pisau Regency); and Tewai Baru (Sepang District, Gunung Mas Regency). The conditions in these three villages were compared to Blanti Siam Village, Pindih Batu Sub-district, Pulang Pisau, which is the site of the intensification of the food barn project.

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We also usually fight to extinguish fires because if left unchecked, they will damage rubber plantations, as happened in 2015.

Kalumpang, Pilang, and Tewai Baru villages are inhabited by traditional Ngaju Dayak farmers. Meanwhile, Blanti Siam is predominantly populated by transmigrants from Java who began planting rice in this peat area in 1982.

Heri Pato (53), a farmer from Kalumpang village, Mantangai sub-district, Kapuas district, Central Kalimantan, walks through a canal of the former 1 million hectare Peatland Development Project, Tuesday (7/19/2022). This 1996/1997 peatland clearance project is the cause of environmental destruction and forest fires in Central Kalimantan. Image by Ahmad Arif/Kompas. Indonesia, 2022.

A 10-hectare land fire on Jalan Tampung Penyang, Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan, Wednesday (10/25/2015) evening. Image by Megandika Wicaksono/Kompas. Indonesia, 2015.

PT AUS location in Jahanjang Village, Katingan Regency, Central Kalimantan, which is a peatland, Saturday (10/26/2019). Image by Dionisius Reynaldo Triwibowo/Kompas. Indonesia, 2019.

Sanyo drinking water directly from bajakah roots in the middle of the forest near their farm, mid-July 2022. Image by Dionisius Reynaldo Triwibowo/Kompas. Indonesia, 2022.

Farmers in Pantik Village, Pulang Pisau, Central Kalimantan, sowing rice on a no-burn rice field managed by PT Sinar Pangan Indonesia (SPI), Wednesday (2/1/2017). The Indonesian Peat Restoration Agency plans to apply the no-burn land clearing technique using decomposing bacteria to reduce the acidity of peat soil in several other provinces. Image by Dionisius Reynaldo Triwibowo/Kompas. Indonesia, 2017.

Heri Pato collects rattan from the forest around his house in Kalumpang Village, Kapuas Regency, Central Kalimantan, Tuesday (8/19/2022). The forest is the source of life for the Dayak Indigenous people. Image by Dionisius Reynaldo Triwibowo/Kompas. Indonesia, 2022.

One of the residents of Sebangau Mulya Village shows his paddy harvest managed from no-burn land, Thursday (3/6/2019). No-burning land management is starting to be mobilised to protect peatlands for the better. Image by Dionisius Reynaldo Triwibowo/Kompas. Indonesia, 2019.

Image by Ismawadi/Kompas.

Galuh, a Dayak Tomun woman in Kinipan Village, Lamandau Regency, Central Kalimantan, prepares to go to the field, Monday (1/17/2022). Image by Dionisius Reynaldo Triwibowo/Kompas. Indonesia, 2022.

Cahyo, a resident of Belanti Siam Village, cleans up a planted rice field before planting new rice seedlings in Pulang Pisau District, Central Kalimantan, Friday (9/4/2020). He uses a tractor machine donated by the central government that was brought by Minister of Agriculture Syahrul Yasin Limpo some time ago. Image by Dionisius Reynaldo Triwibowo/Kompas. Indonesia, 2022.