Farmer to farmer visits in Aceh
Energy, discussion, learning and friendship
Farmer to farmer visits were first promoted by ACIAR projects in Aceh as a way of allowing farmers from tsunami-affected villages on the west coast see farming methods first hand in other parts of Sumatra that might help them tackle the challenges of post-tsunami farming.
By viewing the methods and talking with the local farmers they could understand how to farm in the altered post-tsunami soil conditions.
Farmer to farmer visits are now an integral part of current ACIAR projects. Farmers from one district travel together to visit project sites and farmer groups in other districts.
These visits have tremendous value for the travelling farmers; experiencing how other farmers deal with variable climatic conditions, what varieties they use and their planting and harvesting methods. Many farmers have not travelled out of their district before.
Travelling with these groups, the energy generated is tremendous. The visiting farmers develop an instant connection at each site with their fellow farmers. Discussion of the day’s activities continues well into the night.
“What varieties are being grown here? What do you think of this new skip row method of planting? Yeah, I thought they were crazy too, but look at the crop. This will be a good yield.”
The sun is hot and the buses a little cramped but the farmers’ enthusiasm doesn’t wane. BPTP staff think the farmer to farmer visits are the best way to start working with a group.
“We are all friends now” says Irhas. “Now the farmers from this village want to travel to see other villages and look at the crops.”
Returning to the villages, the ACIAR project team feels a connection developing through shared experiences and better understanding of our project’s goals. A partnership has begun to improve the livelihoods of these Acehnese farmers.