Eid al-Fitr greetings to everyone! Taqabbalallahu Minna Wa Minkum Taqabbal Ya Karim. Alhamdulillah, Ramadan 1443 H has ended. This year, we observed the month of Ramadan by fasting for a full month. It’s interesting when we look back at , it’s always fun to hunt takjil and prepare sahur with our significant one to break the fast. Having the opportunity to spend time before Maghrib looking for food to break the fast and enjoy sahur together with our loved ones is always a treat. It makes Ramadan more blessed because we can enjoy this moment. When it comes to searching for food to eat after breaking the fast, Pandawa Agri friends, do you realize that some of us may experience “food panic” while looking for food to eat after breaking the fast?
Does “your eyes are bigger than your stomach” lead to a food crisis?
When your eyes are bigger than your stomach, is an idiom that has the meaning that we thought we could eat all the food we bought, but in the end, we can’t eat it all, leaving so much food waste. This may not happen only in Ramadan, but however, according to data gathered by Pandawa Agri Indonesia team, food waste increases by up to 10% during Ramadan compared to other months. 8.49% of Indonesia’s population suffers from food shortages. Ironically, each Indonesian generates 184 kg of food waste per year, which, if accumulated, could feed 125 million people.
food shortages can lead to a food crisis, which we are currently experiencing, consciously or unconsciously. The food crisis affects almost every part of the world, and it has even become one of the United Nations’ 30 sustainable development goals agenda, implying that this food crisis is a global issue that we must address together.
There are numerous factors contributing to the current food shortage. As the world’s population grows, so will the world’s appetite for food. Furthermore, wars, inter-country conflicts, and even global warming have an affect on the world’s food stocks.
How Agriculture Facing the Food Crisis?
When it comes to the food crisis, agriculture is a sector that can be counted on to address this problem. However, the problem arises when agriculture necessitates the use of land in order to produce food, but that land is also used for other purposes, such as housing, livestock, tourist attractions, and so on.
If we could open our eyes wider, land use should not be an obstacle in tackling the food crisis. Using the farming method known as intercropping might be able to come up with a promising way to make the most of farmland. This method seems to be a creative solution to maximize land use in the agricultural sector.
Intercropping is not the latest invention of this century. It has been a long time since this cultivation technique of combining 2 or more plants in close proximity has been used. Even in Indonesia, the intercropping method has become common among farmers.
Amaze with the data that Pandawa Agri Indonesia’s team found, as much as 13.34% of the total land area of Indonesia is used for plantations. If we look in more detail, 7.78%, or around 14,858,300 hectares, are used for oil palm plantations. The rest is occupied by cocoa plantations with an area of 1,528,400 hectares, coffee plantations with 1,242,800 hectares and the rest by other plantations.
Intercropping in Palm Oil
Looking at those data, it can be said that in Indonesia, oil palm plantations are the most dominant plantations. Monoculture techniques that are often applied to oil palm require large areas of land and leave a lot of unused land. This makes the Pandawa Agri team curious. Can intercropping be applied to fill the unused land that was left by the monoculture method in palm oil plantation? If this is possible, what plants are suitable to be combined with oil palm?
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Like choosing the right clothes for us to wear, the intercropping technique also doesn’t always work with all plants. This makes the intercropping technique quite tricky. However, in the case of oil palm plantations, there are several crops that are suitable to be combined with oil palm. As applied in Malaysia, one of the biggest palm oil producing countries, intercropping of oil palm with pineapple is an intercropping technique. Meanwhile, in Brazil, oil palm is intercropped with woody plants such as mahogany, ipe, and andiroba. The most interesting thing is that the research also states that it is very possible to combine palm oil with one of Indonesia’s leading commodities, coffee.
Research published in the Journal of Applied Agricultural Science and Technology examined oil palm intercropping with liberica coffee. The results of this study indicate that intercropping between oil palm and Liberica coffee is possible because it does not cause a decrease in oil palm production as the main crop.
The use of intercropping in conjunction with the assumption that the distance between palm oil and liberica coffee is 4.5 m results in no competition for the nutrients required by each plant. The two plants have different dominant vertical and horizontal roots. In palm, the vertical root distribution is dominant at 0-30 cm solum, while in Liberica coffee, the vertical roots are dominant at 30-60 cm solum. Horizontally, the palm roots are dominant at a distance of 2 m from the stem, while in Liberica coffee, the horizontal roots are dominant at a distance of 3 m from the stem.
Advantages of Intercropping Method
Study after study is being conducted to understand more about intercropping. However, there are several advantages to using intercropping that go beyond maximizing land use. Pandawa Agri Indonesia team has summarized them for #temanpandawaagri:
1. The intercropping method produces fewer weeds
Inevitably, weeds growing around the plant can provide nutrient competition for the main crop. However, research in the American Journal of Plant Science shows that the right cropping pattern can cut down on the number of weeds.
The study was undertaken on oil palms in mixed cropping with coffee in Nigeria. The study compared the planting patterns of coffee hollow square, coffee sole, and coffee avenue. The study’s findings revealed that the coffee hollow square planting pattern produced fewer weeds.
2. Cut down on maintenance costs
Aside from the right cropping pattern, lower weed growth can also save on herbicide applications in an effort to save money. The good news is that herbicide use can still be reduced by half if herbicide reductants are used. This means that weed control costs are reduced by more than half.
Furthermore, 70% of the natural ingredients in herbicide reductants are non-toxic to plants. Furthermore, the chemicals contained in the product degrade quickly, making it safe for the environment, non-target animals, and plants.
3. Preserving Biodiversity
The study, which was published in the journal Forest Ecology and Management, discovered that efficient management of oil palm as a main crop with multiple plant species, or agroforestry, contributes positively to increasing biodiversity and ecosystem functions. Soil samples from intercropped oil palm fields have a very high potential for sequestering carbon, far exceeding that of conventional monocrop systems and comparable to secondary forests. Furthermore, the emergence of various types of native fauna in oil palm agroforestry suggests the presence of an ecological balance system.
How cool is this intercropping method, isn’t it? Intercropping can increase farmers’ income from an economic standpoint. This is due to the fact that farmers are not solely reliant on oil palm products, but also earn a living from other crops.
Do you believe intercropping has the potential to save us from a food crisis? Is there anything else we can do to become heroes in the fight against other global issues?
Let’s talk about it in the next article, yaa:D
About Pandawa Agri Indonesia
Pandawa Agri Indonesia is the first life science based company from Indonesia and currently the only one company that has innovation in the development of pesticide reduction products (pesticides reductant). Starting from this innovation, Pandawa Agri Indonesia is committed to helping agricultural businesses to create an agricultural practices that is sustainable, environmentally friendly, safe for users, and also cost-efficiency.
For more information visit : Pandawa Agri Indonesia