Farmer Demonstration Trials:
Promoting Tree Planting and Farmer
Innovation in Indonesia
In many areas across Southeast Asia, deforestation has created a scarcity of productive forest resources. This shrinking forest base, combined with a growing human population and an expanding middle class with discretionary income, results in an increased demand for forest and tree products – timber, fruit, spices, medicines, etc. This demand creates incentives for smallholder tree farming. In some communities, smallholder farmers have spontaneously planted or protected trees to provide products for home and market. Farmers see tree farming as a way to diversify production and income; reduce risk; make more efficient use of their limited inputs (labor, time, land, capital); and build assets for the future. Smallholder tree farming is often successful because of the farmers’ self-interest to profit from their efforts. However, these systems are not universal.
In many communities, farmers are adjusting from a situation of ‘open-access forests’ to one where trees are scarce. These farmers lack the tree planting skills necessary to develop viable tree farming systems. Well-intended top-down development efforts to help farmers expand tree resources often achieved little, because species selection, plantation design, and location are often imposed without considering farmers’ objectives or market opportunities. Active farmer participation is essential to develop successful tree farming systems that address the biophysical and socioeconomic conditions faced by farmers.
This paper describes farmer demonstration trials (FDT) and summarizes the experiences in developing FDT with smallholder farmers and non-government organizations (NGOs) in Indonesia.