How Sustainable Farming Is Helping Combat Climate Change in Indonesia

Health In Harmony has partnered with ASRI to teach local farmers about farming in a way that is helping combat climate change in Indonesia. Sustainable farming techniques reduce greenhouse gas emissions by capturing and holding carbon in vegetation and soils.

Pak Yanto watering the ASRI Clinic organic garden | Photo: Stephanie Gee

Health In Harmony’s partner and pilot project, Alam Sehat Lestari (ASRI), is an Indonesian non-profit co-founded by Dr. Kinari Webb and Dr. Hotlin Ompusunggu. The Indonesian name of the organization means “healthy nature everlasting” and the acronym, ASRI, means, “harmoniously balanced.” Together, we work with the local farmers in some very exciting ways.

By teaching and encouraging sustainable farming practices, we are combating climate change in Indonesia and specifically in Borneo. We will be able to not only improve the local economy, but make the world cleaner and safer for future generations.

What is sustainable farming?

Agriculture is sometimes seen as an environmental villain. Pesticides can taint water systems and common practices play a significant role in greenhouse gas emissions. Farmers often engage in what’s called slash-and-burn agriculture. This is a widely used method of clearing forested land in order to grow food. Trees are cut down and any remaining vegetation is burned. The ash from the burning provides a layer of nutrients to help the crops grow. However, the nutrients are short-lived and get used up within a couple of growing seasons. Then, the cleared land is abandoned and farmers seek a new area to cut and repeat the process. With increasing numbers of people trying to make a living through farming, this practice is dwindling important natural resources.

Forests are huge repositories for carbon. As the trees are cut down, the carbon is released into the atmosphere, which contributes to climate change.

Sustainable farming reduces the negative impact agriculture has on the environment. Sustainable farms produce crops and raise animals without the use of chemical pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified seeds, or practices that degrade soil, water, or other natural resources.

Can sustainable farming combat climate change in Indonesia?

By supporting farmers in their efforts to farm sustainably, greenhouse gas emissions can be greatly reduced and the carbon is held where it needs to be – in the vegetation and soil. As ASRI trains more farmers in sustainable agriculture and they see how it can produce better results than slash-and-burn farming, the environment will be less affected by harmful agricultural practices.

Communities living around Gunung Palung National Park asked for training in sustainable farming practices, and today more than 500 people have been trained by ASRI. The farmers wanted to farm more sustainably, but didn’t have the skills to do so until ASRI brought experts from Java to train them.

With your donation, we can continue our efforts to help local farmers get more out of their fields and provide loggers with a sustainable alternative livelihood. Our goal is to have all farmers engaging in sustainable farming to make a positive effect on the health and safety of our environment now and into the future.

Donate to help Health In Harmony support farmers in West Borneo.

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