Pineapple Sharing: How sustainable farming and community collaboration supports livelihoods and forest conservation

22 Sep 2023 - News

A changing landscape 

Tajri wipes his brow as he takes a rest in the cool shade of a tree. It’s a welcome break after working all morning in the open expanse of his pineapple farm. It is physical work, walking up and down the long rows of plants that line the hillside. He checks the crops, cuts weeds and expertly removes the ripe fruit with one hack of his machete. The pineapples quickly fill the large basket hanging heavily across his back. 

Compared to before, it is significantly hotter now. Back then, in our area, the rainy season and dry season had specific timings. Now, sometimes it rains a bit and there is a massive flood. Sometimes it is slightly dry and the plants die. So for farmers, the impact is significant.’ 

A village at the end of the road 

Tanjung Dalam lies three hours by broken road from the nearest town and over 12 hours from Jambi City, the capital of the province. This remoteness means that every household relies heavily on farming to provide both food and an income. Access to land is therefore essential to the prosperity of the families that live here. 

As the population has grown so has the need for new land. With new arrivals having little choice but to go further and further from the village looking for space to plant their crops. As the farms expand the once dense forest surrounding the village fragments and eventually disappears. 

Our village forest is far from here. But if the people’s livelihoods and economy is unfulfilled, then they are forced to take part in forest encroachment,’ says Tajri. ‘But with guidance, naturally, the people will be inclined to seek a closer alternative than that of a further distance.’ 

This is why, Alam Hijau, a Sumatran-based NGO, supported by the Rimba Collective, is working with local people to develop sustainable livelihoods. They work to maximise the yields from existing farmland and help producers to process the crops to create higher value products. 

Times of plenty 

Tajri explains that after planting it takes 20 months for new pineapple plants to regularly produce fruit. They can then be harvested every week for at least the next decade. 

‘If we were to compare it to other plants, like cinnamon and coffee, they require harvesting and scraping before we bring it to the market. Whereas pineapples, after harvesting, we bring it home and then we bring it to the sides of the road where vehicles commute; that on its own can already generate money.’ 

With so many economic benefits, pineapple cultivation is expanding throughout the region and replacing other crops, such as rubber and coffee, which are vulnerable to fluctuations in global market prices. 

The pineapple harvests are now so plentiful that the excess fruits are shared amongst the community. This ethos of sharing helps create a strong community bond as well as a feeling of abundance. This has a positive effect on social bonds, as well as reducing the need for agricultural expansion and forest encroachment. 

Finding balance 

The constant supply of pineapples, in Tajung Dalam, is helping to build a more robust local economy, while also providing food security for the community. This stability is the foundation of successful long-term conservation work. The Rimba Collective supports this positive trend by guaranteeing funding for 25 years. Allowing the community to plan for a more prosperous and sustainable future together. 

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