Mbatakapidu village in Indonesia: A success story on Food Security

Dang Alila, a member of the Tapawallabadi group, is demonstrating how to weave cloth in Mbatakpidu, Indonesia
Dang Alila, a member of the Tapawallabadi group, is demonstrating how to weave cloth in Mbatakpidu, Indonesia. Photo: Oxfam

Cultivating on arid land

The first impression one gets from Mbatakapidu Village, Sub-district Waingapu city, East Sumba District is of a dry and arid landscape. Mbatakapidu Village, which has a total area of 28.2 km2, consists of five sub-villages, namely Kambara Waingapu, Kambara Maunjara, Kambara Laiborak, Kambara Tanalingu and Kambara Wundut. According to the 2013 census, there are 1,773 people in this village.

There are water springs in the village, a resource that the water utility company has taken advantage of in order to pipe clean water to Waingapu. A water bottling company called Aquamore, also set up shop in the village in 2003 to tap into this reserve.

Since Mbatakapidu became the model for the Village for Food Self-Reliance towards Prosperity in 2009, the village has seen more visitors. Many food security and agriculture activists in East Sumba hail Mbatakapidu as a success story in food security in the region.
“There are 3 women’s groups out of the 27 existing farmer’s groups in Mbatakapidu village,” said Yohanes Pati Ndamung, a community facilitator from the Pahadang Manjoru Foundation. Yohanes has worked with the farmers since 2010.

The Pahadang Manjoru Foundation was founded in Waingapu in 2001. Since its creation, the foundation has partnered with Oxfam and several other international organizations such as Veco and Unicef, as well as national organizations like KRKP. They have also joined a number of district programs such as the SMART program.

Women's group. Mbatakapidu village, Indonesia

At least 10 types of food crops grown

The Foundation is involved in various activities, one of which includes growing food crops in fields as well as individual backyards.

“Our village was not always like this. At one point in time, we had experienced a period of famine, which drove the residents to forage the forest for food. This famine occurred sometime around 1997”, explains Marlina Rambu Meha (43).

Since the new village head was elected in 2009, the villagers have started to grow their own gardens. “The village head announced a regulation requiring the villagers to grow at least 10 types of food crops in their gardens, so that they will have a sizeable supply of crops to harvest,” said Marlina. According to her, some of the yield is consumed by the families; some of it sold at the market, whilst the rest is kept as food reserves.

The Mbatakapidu village has also reactivated its food silo in order to build the village food reserve. These silos are activated at the village and household level. Community members are accustomed to tree silos, where corn reserves are tied to tree branches. When the current corn supply is depleted, the ‘tree’ corn is then gradually used.

They also store reserved supplies of sorghum and rice on wooden posts on the ceilings of their homes, or even community centers.

Carolina Konda Ngguna’s backyard in Mbatakapidu, Indonesia

Processing Local Food

A number of women’s groups have begun to process local food crops into a variety of snacks, such as chips, cookies, and muffins. In addition to processing food, these women are also active in producing woven cloth using natural dyes and an assortment of crafts from palm leaves. Even though they have yet to reach the level of marketing of an established business, these groups have received several orders for meeting events at the village, churches and government.

The groups have also set up their own group’s savings, a lending system, a rotating fund, and an education fund. According to the records of the Mbatakapidu women’s group, a total of 136 children have received an education fund since 2012 to the tune of IDR 86 million as of August 2014.

There are a number of newly built buildings and works in Mbatakapidu, such as a small hall, a community health clinic, a public rest room, the village head office, asphalt roads and an irrigation channel. These structures were constructed within the past five years.

“We are still making progress and there is much work to do. For now, I am happy that the community members have started their own gardens, have a food reserve and are able to start an education field. But in the future, I would like to see more development in all the sub-villages here,” said Jacob Tunda.

Various food  made by the women’s group of Mbatakapidu village, Indonesia