Rice is an agricultural products which is the primary food of Indonesian people. The high demand of rice forced farmers to increase the production. Farmers have done intensification programs to reach this target. This program has proven to increase the national food production, but on the other hand, it has caused environmental problems in terms of synthetic chemical pesticides and fertilizers use. The use of both materials resulted in land degradation and environmental damage that will ultimately reduce agricultural production.
This fact persuaded four students of UGM to develop organic rice agribusiness through the empowerment of organic agriculture-based peasant society by applying SRI (System of Rice Intensification). The students are Danu Santoso (Faculty of Agriculture, Imam Wibisono (Faculty of Agriculture), Bagas Prambudi (Faculty of Animal Science) and Titisari Juwaningtyas (Faculty of Agricultural Technology).
Danu Santoso, team leader, mentioned that the SRI program on organic rice cultivation offers much higher productivity than conventional rice farming systems as it can increase rice production up to 7.5 tons/ha, whereas the conventional farming yields only 5-6 tons/ha. "The application of this system can also reduce the demand for large amount of seeds, where in conventional systems require about 30-40 kg/ha while the SRI system requires only 5-7 kg/ha," he explained at the UGM Campus on Friday (9/7).
He added, the system is also able to save operating costs for fertilizers because it uses organic fertilizers that can be made independently. "This system is a technology that applies the principles of water-saving, cost-effective, time saving, and environmentally friendly, so it is possible that high production can be obtained with low operating costs," explained the students majoring in Agronomy.
Meanwhile, Bagas Prambudi said that organic SRI technology is planned to be implemented by farmer groups in Padon hamlet, Sendang Rejo village, Minggir area of Sleman Regency. The region has considerable potential for the development of organic SRI system. Dissemination is done by the implementation of the STANSA program (Friends of Farmers) to develop community empowerment activities based on organic agribusiness by the application of a low-input and practical cultivation technology.
STANSA programs include socialization programs, education and SRI introduction training, as well as fertilizer and soil testing. Later, they will be followed by local organic pesticide manufacturing and agribusiness and marketing analysis training. Besides, an initiation team of farming units is also formed in order to facilitate access to the management of organic rice. "With the initiation of STANSA program, the farmers who had been highly dependent on the use of synthetic chemical inputs are expected to switch to organic farming independently. In the long term, farmers are expected to manage their own organic agricultural products to be marketed to the public," he explained.
Thanks to their developed program design, the students won the second place in a grants competition program organized by Indonesian Scientists and Technology Experts Community (MITI). The activities were held on June 27 in Jakarta. Meanwhile, the first place was achieved by a team from the University of Mataram. The winners received funds amounting to 50 million to help implement the program that is scheduled to begin in August.