Learning From Rufinus Arif Suma’s Real Work

By : Feybe Lumuru
06 January 2017

Rufinus Arif Suma or just called “Pak Arif”, is one figure of successul farmer. By the yield gathered from his plasma in PTP XIII Parindu Division, Pak Arif and his family have been able to independently cultivate and manage 40 Ha of oil palm plantation, 14 Ha of rubber plantation, and 10 Ha of ricefield. Besides, he also  has been developed 2.5 Ha rubber nurseries and 0.25 Ha of kebun percontohan in Nala rustic within Embala village of Parindu sub-district in Sanggau Regency, West Borneo.

Pak Arif’s kebun percontohan is named Obeng Pangodi, means working a lot. Because here in this place, this successful farmer who is also treasurer in KUD Sawit Permai (KUD Mitra PTP XIII) spend lots of his time to work on oil palm, rubber and food crops cultivation training for people and several Agricultural high schools practicum students in Landak and Sanggau Regency. Said by Pak Arif, Obeng Pangodi also receive a visit from various places in Indonesia and also abroad, including those from Jakarta, Japan and Australia.

To LINKS team in a visit in Obeng Pangodi, Pak Arif shares stories about the beginning of his real work.

"I do not have any educational background on agricultural nor plantation.In my teenage, my parents sent me to a convent, being prepared to be a priest. But since the death of my father, I was then unable to continue. Being sent by the diocese, together with 33 other fellow I was then assigned to villages to educate and provide examples of oil palm cultivation to the people."

"A few years later, I married and settled in the village of Embala (Parindu). Along with the plantation development in PTP XIII, my wife and I obtained plasma plots.When the selling price of palm oil crops (TBS) wasonly Rp. 70/kg, I entrusted my wife to arrange our financial management as good as possible, and particularly assign our priority in saving our TBS crops earning.

"In 2000 and 2002 I was awarded as the young pioneers of West Kalimantan at province level. As the reward, I was sent to attend a comparative study in Singapore, Batam and Palembang. The most interesting is the one in Palembang, where I got valuable knowledge of superior rubber and oil palm cultivation. Coming back home from Palembang, my wife and I applied for a loan of capital (Rp. 150.000.000,-) to aCredit Union in Parindu. We used these funds to purchase land and develop oil palm, rubber plantation and superior rubber nursery. By appropriate application of both agricultural technologies and financial management, the loan is now paid off. We were even able to buy paddy fields, provide jobs for others, and develop trading business. "

Then, about the idea of Obeng Pangodi, when did you start establishing it? What are the things behind this Obeng Pangodi establishment?

"The establishment of ObengPangodi actually started in 2002, along with my return from a comparative study in Palembang. At that time,I realized that the biggest problem of our society, the Dayak people, not on its natural resources, but on our poor quality human resources. We, people of the Dayak, also neither easy to change nor to do a forward-thinking. We need to see a true success of our peer first before deciding to slowly be open to changes and progresses. A simple instance can be seen in the development of oil palm plantation project in Sanggau. At first, when PTP XIII start edits socializationin Parindu Division, many people showed their objection because they were not familiar with palm oil. But once they saw that it was prosperous, many of them then handedover their land to be developed independently. This case is a kind of evidence how we, Dayak people, need to witness a success sample first, for then go along with (progressive) changes."

"Therefore, I separated about 0.25 hectares of land to be used as kebun percontohan (Obeng Pangodi), a place to learn oil palm, rubber, and holticultural cultivation as well as a place to build farmer dynamics and financial management. This kebun percontohan can be a place to find tangible evidence of the new findings in the application of agricultural technology, so that the mindset of my cognates, neighbors,and people around me can be changed and willing to open up to change, then becoming able to encourage themselves to go forward."

Can you tell us about the learning model applied in this Obeng Pangodi?

"For practicum class students, being applied here is the combination of 30% theoriesand 70% practices. They are required to stay in Obeng Pangodi for the 3 (three) months. Typically, training for students begins at 05a.m. for spiritual guidance, then practice starts at 07a.m.till 11a.m. The trainees will have their break til l2 p.m., then continue their practice again up to 5 p.m. While in the evening, usually a discussion on theory of cultivation technology for several agricultural commodities ranging from oil palm, rubber, horticulture to aqua culture will be done till 9 p.m. In addition, discipline, teamwork, responsibility attitudes, and manners are points that are trained and assessed during their practice here. Often, I also punish them with smart penalties. For example, those who are caught dating or smoking, will accept a oneday hoeing punishment, and for those who are caught stealing will be punished for 5 consecutive hoeing days, and not allowed to joint practice for 5 days. "

"During their staying in ObengPangodi, these practicum students do not have to spend lots of money, just simply paythe cost of fuel for the generator and bring their own food. Above all, I allow them to utilize the remaining crops around this kebun percontohan. When everthey wish for an extra earning, they can work by gathering rubber seeds around the kebun percontohan, then sold them for Rp. 3000, -/kg. Therefore, during their stayingin ObengPangodi, there isno need for them to ask money to their parents. Often, even they bringback home amount ofmoney and seeds to develop in their hometown. "

"As for the oil palm training for farmers or people around here, is usually held based on curriculum training during the first week or every weekend. In Obeng Pangodi, kind of curricula and modules, and 3 assistants are available to help the training process. If the training is held by the government, I usually  just attend  as companion, because the trainer are already arranged by the government"

Move to the last questionaccording to you, is suchtraining that are now conducted in Obeng Pangodi need to be applied in the development of plasma plots?

"Yes, I think it needs to be applied, but it must be adjusted to the context and conditions in which the training was conducted. Besides, it also needs some additional improvements, at least covers three basic steps. First, the socialization stage and land acquisition should not use violence nor coercion. Wherever we are, approaching the Dayak people cannot be done by force. It must be filled with good willand patiencein stead, of which the most importantone is to be done based on affectionate love. Because after all, the plantation developmentis also done for the purpose of the welfare society.

Secondly, the same as those exemplified in Obeng Pangodi, oil palm plantation development should be developed in an integrated manner with other commodities such as rubber and food crops. For instance, people who are willing to give their land should not acquired to give all of their land for oil palm plantation development, in which a certain area must be set aside for rubber instead.Therefore, when palm oil prices in the market plummeted, farmers can still rely on therubber for their livelihood. Another example, other than giving their land, those people should be assisted and taught to acknowledge more about how to cultivate their food cropsgrown in their own yard, like chilies, tomatoes also other vegetables, rice, and fish ponds. So,when the price of oil palm or rubber in the market drop sharply, there is no need to worry about food stuffs availability. I realize, we the Dayak tribe, are spoiled by nature, directly picking vegetables in the wood sand going to the river for fish whenever we need to eat are simply done by us, for formerly everything are fully available in nature. This is why in case of  food crop cultivation, we are not as good as those newcomer from Java. Now, that the forests are functionally switching, food is no longer pretty much available in nature, henceforth besides of the need to be trained, we also need to be provided with exampleson this cultivation methods."

"Third, the oil palm plantation development, particularly plasma must be followed by farmer group dynamics assistance and management development as well as development of financial management. Nowadays, people are quite open to the development of oil palm plantations, with plasma program offered by the corporate. But I noticed that people are more often portrayed as a farmer only by name. They have land, but have no good acknowledgement about oil palm cultivation techniques, not being assisted to agroup dynamics, nor being taught for financial management, which then resulted to the raise of various problems between farmers and the corporates in Sanggau, that commonly related to both plasma production levels and lawn care, and also to the no more functioning farming group.In addition, some oil palm farmers, in stead of gaining their TBS yield and paying off their land development loan debt, precisely they are badly in debt for new motorvehicle credit and for any other else to institutions or certain people. They do not think to save their earnings for theirland replanting nor for investment in other businessyet. "

"For me, these three steps are becoming vital records to be addressed in the future, especially if the concerned parties are really determined to develop oil palm plantations with good intentions and affectionate love. These steps will be abeginning of ourreal work intrullybuilding oil palm for the shake of people welfare.