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Techology Agriculture

Techology Agriculture

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 Simple home of a West Flores farming family
 Spider web rice filed; an old traditional Manggarai way to divide the land

General information about land use in the district of West Manggarai:
  • Forests (116,607 ha) and grasslands (117,531 ha) are the main vegetation characteristics in the district of West Manggarai. Together they account for approximately 80% of the regency’s total area agriculture irrigation.
  • Forests are generally located at higher altitudes, primarily in the districts of Komodo, Sano Nggoang and Macang Pacar
  • West Manggarai is lightly settled, with populated areas occupying only 787 ha or or just 0.27% of the total land area
  • The remaining (+/- 20%) of the land area is dedicated to irrigated fields, dry fields, plantations and mixed gardens
  • Lakes and barren land areas amount to less than one present of the total land area
Drying a rice harvest in the sun before beginning the threshing process
 A chicken condominium on a farm in West Flores

Food and Agriculture crops

West Flores’ food and agriculture irrigation is divided into two types of crops:

Subsistence crops

These crops are mainly cultivated by the farmers for their daily sustenance and not intended to produce a cash income. Occasionally, farmers will sell surplus basic food crops to local markets and neighbors. Rice, corn and cassava represent basic food and the typical subsistence crops in West Flores.

Cash crops

Cash crops are cultivated for the purpose of generating a cash income. Some cash crops are often cultivated on plantations biotechnology. Typical cash crops include vanilla, pepper and cloves together with semi-luxury items like tobacco, cacao, coffee and cashew nuts. The farmers are very dependent on demand at local markets in order to convert these crops into cash.

There are mixed forms of agricultural biotechnology practices in West Flores. Local tropical fruit plantations can be used either as cash crops or as subsistence crops.

Nearly all the people of West Manggarai work as either farmers or fisherfolk. Because of this, the people have an intimate relationship with nature and the local climate. Similarly, many local cultural traditions and rituals are closely linked with the agricultural life-style of the people.

Rice – mature and ready to harvest
Cassava  root (Manihot esculenta)
sweet potatoes
papaya fruit
Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are an important source of calories for the people of West Manggarai
Papaya fruit (Carica papaya)
Cloves (Syzgium armomaticum) is a valuable cash crop in West Flores
Nutmeg (Myristica fragrans)
palm fruit
Vanilla beans (Vanilla Planifolia)
Sago Palm (Metroxylon sago) fruit is used for palm sugar (brown sugar)
Roasted coffee beans
Pineapples from Flores are thought to be among the world’s sweetest
Kapok trees (Ceiba oentandra) produce a flossy material used in making mattresses and pillows
Cashew nut fruit, the nut is attached below the fruit
Cashew nut (Anacardium occidentale) fruit, the actual nut is attached below the body of the fruit

In the drier environments of East Nusa Tenggara, the role of rice as a staple foodstuff is somewhat displaced by sago, corn, cassava and taro. Fish, plentiful and relatively low cost, is a popular source of protein.

Farmer women selling selecting field crops at the local marked
 Notice the pre-set quantities tied to a single day’s consumption of items offered for sale at the local market
Women bring their agricultural products to the market

Environmental problems brought by an agricultural existence

Errors in agriculture irrigation methods can result in environmental damage and be tied to natural disasters, such as landslides and flooding. Agricultural development is only sustainable if the methods employed are wisely adapted to local conditions. Huge undiversified plantations of cash crops can deplete soil fertility and threaten the very basis of local community’s wealth and sustainability.

West Manggarai is home to a great deal of mixed garden plantations. Through plant diversification, these mixed plantations are good for the soil fertility and minimize harvest risks for the farmers in the event of plant diseases and climate fluctuations.

Slash and burn shifting cultivation is a common land use method in many tropical areas. The farmers cultivate land for a given period, shifting their planting when soil fertility declines. In order to open new agricultural lands these farmers typically slash and burn the pre-existing ground cover, including valuable forest lands and old growth vegetation. This ancient form of farming is no longer considered economically sustainable and is demonstrated agriculture biotechnology to be very bad for the environment.

The hilly landscapes of West Manggarai are especially susceptible to erosion and land slides that result from the over cultivation of these areas for agricultural biotechnology purposes.

Deforestation for agriculture areas
Arial view of deforestation resulting from poor agricultural practice