By David Booth MBE, EBPP Founder & CEO
Thursday, 19th January was an exciting milestone for EBPP Manikaji School’s 31 junior and senior high school students as we officially launched the “Dry Land Regenerative Agriculture for Sustainable Soil Fertility, Water Retention, Food Security and Climate Resilience” project to implement our successful Round 6 Climate Action proposal, sponsored by Australian Volunteers International (AVI), over a one-year period from January to December 2023: the start of new chapter in transforming lives and livelihoods of Manikaji communities, led by their children!
Manikaji’s population of 380 families, spread over 482 hectares from 300-1,000 metres elevation on Mount Abang, is one of Desa Ban’s largest communities, comprising the 3 customary villages of Pucak, Asti and Kaliaga, and only accessed by steep, partly unmade dirt roads - and has some of the most difficult terrain of steep and undulating volcanic ash farmland.
Manikaji farmers and EBPP’s Manikaji School high school students will learn and implement, through 6 workshops and hands-on field work, facilitated by Indonesian dry-land permaculture experts, agriculture/agroforestry techniques to improve the fertility and water retention, supported by multi-beneficial Vetiver grass (Chrysopogon Zizanioides) hedges, bamboo and biomass to conserve soil and water to increase crop yield, of their farmland and grow nutritious foods, cash crops and multi-beneficial trees for food security and selling the surplus to local/regional markets, while building climate resilience.
Official Launching with our High School Students
They were waiting. They’d already been introduced to the concept by our expert dry-land permaculture facilitator, Krisna Waworuntu, who joined us at the beginning of December 2022 and now it was all systems GO! It was a school day but during their mid-morning school break, we gathered our 31 students in the adjacent community meeting centre (balai banjar), where I reviewed the project and started arranging our students into 3 balanced groups: 1) The numbers: our 12 senior high students were equally divided, 4/per group, with each group leader being one of our 3 10th Grade highly motivated girls who’d tried planting various tree seedlings in 2020 & 2021; 2) dividing our 19 junior high students (10 boys, 9 girls) was by selection from team leaders.
It was an exhilarating day and we’ll soon be reporting on their workshops and dry-land permaculture hands-on field work!
Watch this space and wish them luck! •