Promoting Local Food Products

Now Indonesia is still importing wheat. Data from Indonesian Flour Producers Association (Aptindo) noted its nominal rose 6%. Wheat’s import in 2012 could reach 6.6 million tons. Whereas in 2011 “only” 6.2 million tons. It is ironic. Why? Because the Indonesian archipelago has various local food products.

Many types of crops are growing in the rural areas. There are uwi, ganyong, gembili, suwek, rondo sluku, punuk banteng, garut, kimpul, etc. All of these natural gifts can be the substitution of wheat flour. It was explained by Mr. Kemin on Sunday (27/5). He is the chairman of Mekarsari Self-Help Peasant Group at Gegunung Village, Sendangsari, Pengasih, Kulonprogo, Yogyakarta.

I visited there along with dozens of FOKAL’s (Forum for Family and Children who Love the Environment) members initiated by Ning Raswani. She is one of Nova Inspiring Women who won the 2012 Women and the Environment award. Since the early 2000s, this village has been known as the Center of Tubers and Local Food.

Remarkably, their products were marketed not only in Central Java and Yogyakarta. Moreover, they were also venturing into Jakarta, Bogor, Semarang, Surabaya and other big cities. Their product’s examples are garut chips, purple yam/sweet potatoes flour, and the crystals palm sugar. All are natural, healthy and quite cheap.

Mr. Kemin told their struggle to me. At first, the attempt to replant the bulbs in the yard was underestimated. But slowly many people come to support. It was including the local village government. To getting their attention was by reflecting on the beloved ancestors.

“Why did our grandparents’ teeth still intact? Even when they were die and being buried? The reason is because most of them were eating many healthy foods. In addition, the nature and the soil has not been polluted by the chemicals toxic as nowadays,” he said.

Suitable for Indonesian belly

Mutiara Nugraheni justified this simple thesis. The student of S-3 Program in Food Science Faculty at Agricultural Technology UGM Yogyakarta said that the tubers are more suitable to the belly of Indonesian people. While wheat is less appropriate. The reason is because it contained gluten. Indeed, this substance is needed by Western people who have dynamic life style. However, if the Indonesian eats too much wheat, it caused children to become hyperactive/autism.

Furthermore, this Lecturer of State University in Yogyakarta (UNY) explored the benefits of tubers in terms of physical health. For ulcer sufferers please take pati garut or the essence. Its flour can be processed into cakes and bread. For people with diabetes, they can replace the consumption of white rice with purple uwi.

Moreover, Cancer can be cured by eating kleci potatoes. Its Latin name is Coleus Tuberosus. This tubers should be boiled with its skin. According to research in the laboratory, the cuticle layer content of Antioxidants Ursolic Acid (UA) and Oleanolic Acid (OA) which in fact can tame the tumor. These important findings have been published in three major journals: The International Food Research Journal, African Journal of Food Science, and Journal of Medicinal Plants Research (2012).

Furthermore, in terms of treatment the tuber crops are also much easier. It is especially while compared to rice or wheat. Both of these plants are the water intake. While the tubers can be survive in the dry season. They experienced a period of dormancy or break for a while. However, once the rainy season comes, they can quickly grow back and ready to be harvested.

Agus Purwanto, one of the village youth also described an interesting fact. Most of the plants provide the tubers / roots, stems, and leaves for human being. Garut tubers can stop diarrhea because it is rich of fiber. Uniquely, the taro / talas stems are also beneficial. According to the Indian researchers who had been visited there, if we boiled and ate taro stems, that can lower the cholesterol levels in our body. Moreover, the new leaves of bamboo tree can be made into delicious chips also.

Indeed, if we cultivate our local potential creatively, this nation will not suffer from hunger. Let’s promote the consumption of tubers in our respective environments. It can fulfill our daily needs, as well as to preserve natural heritage for the future generation. Therefore, our grandchildren can still eat healthy foods and enjoy the nature beauty. (T. Nugroho Angkasa S.Pd, an English teacher at Angon Natural School, Yogyakarta, Indonesia)

The Science Behind Aquaponics Food Production System

Aquaponics is an innovative and growing industry in which plants and aquatic animals are grown by providing them the symbiotic environment in a recirculating system. It stimulates our real life eco system. The basic instruction and proper guideline must be followed to run the system. The plants and fish species should be selected according to the area climate. The existence of this unique food production system comes into being by the existence of two sub system. To understand Aquaponics’ real meaning, we need to understand the following sub systems • Aquaculture • Hydroponics

Aquaculture

Aquatic animals like fish, prawns, crayfish, crustaceans and molluscs are grown in symbiotic environment by the hydroponics combination. Imagine! You can grow fish in your own home with few dollars and you can also produce vegetables without clay that is absolutely free with it. You think to cultivate fish in food production system and vegetables are also produced with it? It looks like a dream but with a little passion it is possible anywhere around the world. If un-experienced farmers decide to run this system, it is not a hard task for such farmers if they follow the instructions provided by experts of food production systems. But, if they do not do so, the whole system is at a risk.

Particular types of aquaculture are
• Shrimp farming
• Fish farming
• Ornamental fish cultivation
• Oyster farming
• Algaculture like seaweed farming

Hydroponics

A unique method of growing plants with out clay or soil, by using different minerals solutions. Terrestrial plants are usually grown by putting their roots in the solution or in inert medium like gravel, perlite, coconut husk or mineral wool.

There are some reasons of adopting hydroponics in food production system,
• It is very easy to harvest.
• No clay or soil is required for plant cultivation.
• Due to controlled system, the nutrition pollution is not released.
• The water always remains in the system and it can be re-used at any time.
• High and stable yields.
• Less nutrition cost because the level of nutrition is easy to control.

How an aquatic system works? Water uses the gravity as its transport and is drained in the gravel bed from the fish tank. Bacteria break down the ammonia which is present in fish waste and change it into nitrate and nitrate which is necessary or key nutrients for plants growth. Watercress is use often as a secondary way of water filtration. Water after filtration is pumped to growing beds from the gravel beds. The roots of Vegetables like tomato and other salad green receive this water. When plants absorb all essential nutrients (nitrate and nitrogen) from water, the water is cleansed and finally re-circulated back to fish tank. This cycle is repeated with small intervals.

For a success full aquatic system, monitoring for fish and plants health is necessary because both are the soul of the system and survival of both elements depends on each other. For example, the nitrate produced by fish waste is used by plants and fish uses the oxygenated water which is cleansed by plants within the system.

Protect Our Food Production – The H-2A Program Should Be Blasted Away!

We should be thinking about protecting ourselves from future food shortages by strengthening our internal food production.

Today, over 50% of our internal agricultural labor is illegal, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Said another way, more than 800,000 of the 1.6 million agro workers who work on our crops and livestock each year are foreigners without legal permission to work. If you still haven’t seen the light, here’s the bottom line: there’s a potentially disastrous weakness in our food production system because we’re dependent on foreign food imports, undocumented foreign workers, and a shortage of American workers.

Instead of blaming the farmers, or screaming at our politicians for not protecting our borders, we should be truly responsible by getting off our butts.

First, by coaching our kids to go into farming. Next, we should be aware of economic realities which have been in place since the 1940s. President Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted the Bracero Program in 1941 and, as a result, Mexican agro labor carried the day while we fought in Europe and in the Pacific. After our soldiers returned, we went on to build an industrial America unparalleled in modern times.

We were able to do this because we had the help of Mexican agro labor. Today, we are producing 25% of the world’s economic output even though we are 5% of the world’s population. It’s time to humbly admit that we need Mexican agro labor and that they should work for us legally. It’s also time to sympathize with the plight of our farmers.

This is why. Imagine that you’re the owner of a dairy farm with 500 cows of which 100 are dealing with the onset of labor. You don’t have enough American workers to care for the herd, much less these pregnant cows. You’re told that you can get help from Mexico but it will not arrive in less than six months. If you’re lucky. The H-2A Program, the politically-correct, yet inefficient portal to bring these workers in, requires you to go through a paper-intensive, deadline-ridden process that kills 40% of all applications.

Our farmers have more important things to do than to chase after the H-2A Program. They don’t have time to go through three government agencies in order to bring a Mexican worker for seasonal work. Producing crops, milk and eggs, meat and poultry, not to mention thousands of other products, is much more important. So they use an illegal work force, and should we blame them?

The H-2A Program should be blasted away. We should be using our great native intelligence to come up with practical – yes, practical – solutions instead of falling prey to fear-mongers who don’t know what they’re talking about. Let’s get real about our future, our children’s future.

Opportunities For Self-Sufficiency – Food Production

In the past most people grew their own food; now we are dependent on an unsustainable and polluting agriculture. If we do garden at all we should consider planting fruit trees and growing vegetables between the flowers. Most gardens are too small to grow all our vegetable and fruit requirements; however what we do grow is at least under our control, and can allow us to keep to organic principles in the process. How far is it possible to have a garden that provides a reasonable amount of food? Almost every garden has enough space for growing a small quantity of vegetables and one or more fruit trees. Herbs can of course be grown in all corners of a garden and inside the house as well.

The first decisions to be made relate to fruit trees. These can be very productive and can provide some to all of our autumn and winter fruit needs, depending on the size of our garden. If you have no fruit trees at present, it is worth planning their positioning such that shading in particular is carefully considered. The choice of fruit or nut trees (e.g. apple, pear, plum, hazelnut or walnut) is a personal one, but it is worth finding out what is likely to grow well in your local climate and soil. Fruit trees are probably the best crop to go for if you have enough space, as they require little maintenance- only yearly pruning and limited feeding.

Certain vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach and lettuce, are very productive in quite small areas. Peas and beans can be grown up hedges and garden fences. By carefully selecting the varieties, it is possible to harvest a succession of fresh vegetables and fruit throughout the year particularly with the use of a conservatory, greenhouse or cloches. If you have a small garden and wish to grow more, consider an allotment. If you are growing vegetables for the first time, start in a small way and experiment with different crops and different positions in the garden.

There is one further problem to be mastered. How can we successfully grow fruit and vegetables without modern pesticides and fertilisers on which so much food production has come to rely? Fertilisers can be replaced by compost and by an understanding of what makes a fertile soil, which are addressed in the subsection below.

As regards alternatives to pesticides, it is important to learn ecological methods of pest control. Here are some examples of what you can do:

o Encourage natural predators-spiders, hoverflies, ladybirds, and dragon-flies all prey on a wide range of insect pests. Birds, toads and hedgehogs are also effective predators of slugs and snails.
o Use ashes, lime or sawdust around plants to act as barriers.
o Use aromatic plants-garlic, onions, marigolds, and tansy-these repel some insects, and the plants can also be made into natural sprays.
o Time your planting to avoid the worst seasonal infestations.
o If necessary, use weak soap solutions with small amounts of vegetable oil.

Some other ways of avoiding the use of pesticides:

o Choose only healthy plants and seeds.
o Give plants the right soil conditions, light and moisture.
o Rotate annual crops.
o Grow a diversity of vegetables and flowers.