As an organization that dedicates its work to educate people on considerably less familiar issues, each member of Tay Juhana Foundation (TJF) needs to have the capacity to fully understand the causes and its relevant knowledge, especially the technical one. Coincidentally, the theme of sustainable agriculture in suboptimal lands requires an adequate amount of understanding on its technicality.

To that end, TJF initiated a program called Technical Knowledge Improvement Program (TKIP) that started last May. One of the outcomes of this program would be a handbook that is designed to be the source of data and information related to TJF causes. We chose to write up a handbook since it is not only helping the improvement of the team knowledge but also to provide a reference in answering potential questions most likely asked by external parties. We planned to write a number of handbooks and decided to focus the first edition on the introduction of TJF’s three main causes and the local context of Pulau Burung district as our main research site.

This first edition of the handbook is written based on qualitative research. Two main methods were used, i.e. literature review and field research. Literature review was conducted by analysing information from relevant materials such as journals, conference proceedings, research papers, and official reports. For the field research, we visited the district of Pulau Burung several times to observe the ecosystem both from the environmental perspective and socio-economic view. Interviews and focus group discussion (FGD) were used to comprehend the present feelings, thoughts, behaviors, and the belief of the local people. A list of themes and the respective questions was prepared prior to the interview and FGDs. This semi-structured approach gave room for clarification and further discussion of important and relevant issues arose during the interviews or FGDs. At occasions, questions can be elaborated.

tjf handbook in the making

The handbook is divided into two contexts, global and local. The global context covers TJF’s three main themes: food security, sustainable development (with focus on sustainable agriculture) and suboptimal lands. Under food security themes, we discuss over its definition, its dimensions, and its enabling condition. We examine the complexity of food and conservation dilemma, water crisis, and sustainability indicators under sustainable agriculture theme. Lastly, the esoteric ‘suboptimal lands’ is explored from its definition, its types, its challenges and opportunities in addressing food issues.

As TJF’s main research site, Pulau Burung District lies entirely on suboptimal lands. In the following chapter of local context, the global context’s themes are incorporated thoroughly. To highlight the locality characters, we arrange this chapter in socio-economic and environmental themes. The history of Pulau Burung District’s development along with its demography and social anthropology are included in the first subchapter. After that, we describe natural resource management and practiced agriculture. We delve into the likes of soil engineering, integrated water management system, also intercropping and multi-cropping. This handbook is complemented with a list of glossary to accommodate the understanding of unfamiliar, especially technical, terminology.

We conclude the handbook by comparative studies from a collection of studies in similar settings or have likewise concerns as in Pulau Burung. In the end, we expect to obtain lesson learned and recommendation which might be adopted to leverage our understanding of sustainable agriculture in suboptimal lands. Ultimately, the process of writing the handbook and the end result are expected to improve TJF members’ capacity to educate the people on the relevant causes.