[et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text”]The first time we came across Pusat Unggulan Riset Pengembangan Lahan Suboptimal (PUR-PLSO) was upon reading its journal on the internet. Immediately, we were attracted to the suboptimal part of the institution’s name, since it is relatively rare to use. After initiating and conducting several contacts with PUR-PLSO’s representative, our opportunity finally came to visit PUR-PLSO’s headquarter in Palembang. TJF’s visit was also to participate in the National Seminar on Suboptimal Land that was organized by PUR-PLSO.
The National Seminar on Suboptimal Land 2019 brought Eco-Smart Farming for Farmers Prosperity as the main theme. It was divided into three sub-events: the seminar, paper presentation, and scientific writing competition.
The first session of the seminar consisted of speakers from Oil Palm Plantation Fund Management Agency (BPLP-KS) and PT Sampoerna Agro who talked about the challenges and potential of palm oil sector. It was emphasized that palm oil can be viewed as a ‘gift’ that brings many benefits. Therefore, palm oil business needs to be supported, as long as the business practice comply with the Roundtable Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) standard. The first session was closed by the head of PUR-PLSO whom explained about ongoing experiments of cultivating plants such as chili, corn, and paddy in the lowland swamp (rawa lebak). The following session was led by experts from universities who delved into leveraging technology, not only 4.0 but also 5.0, to boost smart farming practices, including aquaculture – even aquamaritime – development. The importance of closing the massive gap between the high-tech technology and farmers’ capability was also highlighted in this session. Every agriculture technology development must be accessible and affordable for farmers at every scale.
After lunch time, scientific sessions (i.e. oral presentations) were conducted in parallel. The participants were divided into six different themes, ranging from crops and livestock management, technology, food processing, conservation, to social, economy, and culture—where two TJF representatives presented their paper at. The presentation was using a combination of role-play and storytelling with the objective to expose the implemented sustainable agriculture practice in Pulau Burung, especially with the integrated water management system.
The following day was occupied with visiting experimental sites of UNSRI’s Faculty of Agriculture that is in partnership with PUR-PLSO. In Indralaya, the students conduct research on chili, paddy, and other horticultures, which mostly were grown on swamp soil setting with additional salinity to test their tolerance level and survival rate. They have also been engaging the local farmers so they can use part of farmers’ land as experimental sites. Any benefits will be given to the farmers as an effort to educate farmers in producing agriculture products more effectively. TJF team also visited the laboratory where the students develop fungus and microbes as pest control. The second location was in Pemulutan where the floating culture test was conducted. The 100 m2 experimental paddy field was separated by small ditches that enables the water pump to flow and become the medium of floating culture. Since the visit was during the dry season, the practice was not observable.
Upon our departure from Palembang, we had enriched the knowledge in the topic of suboptimal land. The seminar was a great exposure of academic events and the visit to the experimental sites added our knowledge in cultivation practice in swamp soil.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column]