Alessio Colli, Meredith Besseling, Nathanael Ivan, Sarah Fleetwood, Brinda Ambaram, Ellie Locke
The area of focus for our project has been tackling organic waste in the household using composting and a variety of other permaculture techniques. Our research topic was largely inspired by an interview with Aji, Jess’s brother-in-law who is an agricultural researcher and has implemented his own composting system and vegetable garden in his local restaurant. On further investigation, we found startling statistics. In 2008, garbage relating to organic matter (food scraps, vegetables, leaves etc) was estimated to make up a massive 58% of Indonesian waste generation (Anjani, 2011, p23). In 2011, household waste reached 16.7 million ton/year – over twice the proportion of any other sector (Anjani, 2011, p27). Our aim is to reduce the output of organic waste from rural communities into landfill, whilst simultaneously introducing more sustainable gardening and, on a larger scale, farming in central java.
Indonesia’s traditional farming methods were forgotten after the ‘Green Revolution’ was implemented in 1970 as a response to the global food shortage. This program was funded by the Suharto government and focused on the use of irrigation, high-yielding varieties, multiple monocultures of the rice crop and a drastic increase in the use of chemical fertilisers. Despite increasing short-term crop yields, the capitalising nature of the Green Revolution has had detrimental consequences on Indonesian farmers, agricultural practices, soil fertility and finances (Subejo, 2009). Likewise, the narrow-minded goal to improve quantities with a focus on fertilizers and infrastructure has made Indonesians oblivious to the impact of consumption’s other hand – waste.
A combination of traditional farming techniques with modern permaculture know-how such as the use of polycultures, companion planting and crop rotation would create an environmentally and economically sustainable future for Indonesian farmers and consumers. Organic farming would minimize disease outbreak, increase soil nutrition, and hence boost production (Edwards, 2010). Composting is an easy method of organic farming that could overshadow the convenience of waste-burning. Our Kompos Kit includes an upcycled 44 gallon drum, spray can for compost moistening, water bottles and balloons for soil aeration testing, marigold seeds for companion planting and a pair of gardening gloves. Each family receives one kit, including a double-sided pamphlet of comprehensive graphic illustrations.
Over a period of sixteen weeks volunteers engage with village communities to implement localised composting systems that yield rich fertilisers and make use of household and garden waste. The fertilisers are then used in conjunction with permaculutural practices to enhance the viability of crops and domestic gardens. At the end of the process, progress is evaluated and improvements are made to ensure a more efficient cycle.
Kampung members are more likely to adopt this new composting system if they are involved in personalisation and socialisation through communal activities such as painting the compost bin. In time, the benefits of this waste-minimising system will be proven as their dependent expense on chemical fertilisers diminishes and their soil and crops begin to prosper. Likewise an increase in biodiversity in the surrounding ecosystems will, over time, positively affect the health of the community in general.
Our Kompos Kit is designed as a start-up model for rural families. With practice and understanding of the composting system, farmers can develop the composting bin into larger-scale compost stacks. A similar project in Sukunan sold its compost to neighbouring villages, with demand quickly exceeding the supply (Jellinek, 2004, para 6). Another possible future for farming is to sell the crops at a higher pricepoint into the niche Organic market like the APPOLI organic rice initiative (VECO, 2013).
Anjani, A. 2011, Household Waste Management in Indonesia, Master Thesis, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan
Edwards, N. 2010, ‘In search of Sustainable Farming’, Inside Indonesia, accessed 10th July 2015
Jellinek, L. 2004, ‘Recycling in Sukunan’, Inside Indonesia, Java, accessed 10th July 2015
Subejo, T. 2009, ‘Forty years after the ‘Green Revolution’’, Jakarta Post, news, accessed 10th July 2015
VECO, 2013, ‘First Export of APPOLI Organic Rice’, News, accessed 10th July 2015