Fostering New Hope from Vanilla from Village School in Molof and Warlef, Keerom

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EcoNusa in collaboration with PtPPMA (Limited Association for Papuan Indigenous People’s Study and Empowerment) facilitated Village School program at Molof and Warlef Villages in Senggi District, Keerom Regency, Papua, on 24-25 November 2022.

Molof Village is located within the concession of timber company, PT Semarak Dharma Timber. It takes 6-hour trip by land to reach the hamlet from Jayapura. Molof Village is populated by 140 families consisting of a number of clans, namely

Yur, Piatawa, Yokar, Nanggoali, Plok, Mailon, Korme, Sirme, Weliatawa, Suktawa, and Tiar. Yur, Yokar, and Piatawa are the native and predominant clans in Molof Village.

Representative of Village Assembly Body (Bamuskam) Philipus Naggoali expressed his pleasure with the village school here. “The community has thus far complained about the absence of training on cultivation and maintenance from agriculture office despite the given assistance of agriculture and plantation program,” said Philipus.

The community has long planted vanilla at around 2-5 years before. However, they just let the plant here creep on the high trees and not maintained. This is due to the locals’ lack of knowledge on vanilla pollination. Besides, the community also lack knowledge on the vanilla’s market price in such a way that they have less enthusiasm for vanilla cultivation. As to the locals, none of the villagers in Molof has sold their vanilla to market.

The same experience also happens to the community in Warlef Village in Senggi District, Keerom. They had even known vanilla in the past seven years. Herman, one of the villagers, said that initially they were interested and even made group of vanilla farmers. They even afforded government assistances in the form of vanilla seeds and the production tools. However, they has never had any training on vanilla cultivation. “The community then abandoned their vanilla because they thought it is hard to cultivate vanilla,” said Herman.

“For the reason, they are in dire need of Village School here so that they can get knowledge on the vanilla pollination,” said Philipus.

Yustus, the facilitator of PtPPMA, provided training on vanilla cultivation system covering some materials on vanilla cultivation business planning, care, weed cleansing, lighting arrangement, pollination, and cropping. As it was the case in Molof Village, Yustus drew the local farmers’ attention to undergo field practice at Herman’s garden.

Tete Yonathan, a local of Warlef, admitted that he had planted vanilla for 5 years. However, Tete has never harvested vanilla due to his ignorance. The vanilla tree in his garden has spread out wildly. Worse, it was almost cut off due to the absence of yield.

“This is what I have been waiting because I want the vanilla to produce better yield for commercial to meet the survival needs,” said Tete. He now has plan to cut down and nurture his own vanilla trees. Let alone, the facilitator has also informed the vanilla price and location of mill for vanilla.

Vanilla (vanilla planifolia) is categorized into thick meat vegetation that produces pods that are processed into ground vanilla. Vanilla is the raw materials for some industries of culinary, cosmetic, perfume, herbal, and essential oil. Vanilla is deemed green gold due to its potentials for Indonesian export because Indonesia, according to the Ministry of Trade, is potential to become the largest exporter of vanilla in the world.

Vanilla could grow in the 200 – 1,500 meters above sea level. The vanilla price in 2022 is predicted to be soaring. Dried vanilla bar price could hit at Rp5.2 million per kilogram, and the vanilla green bean Rp600 thousand per kilogram.

Training from EcoNusa provides prospective hope to Tete, Herman, and other villagers of the two hamlets. They admitted they had gained their new spirit to cultivate vanilla so as to earn more income from vanilla.

Village School was attended by 21 participants from Molof Village and 20 participants from Warlef Village. The Village School was held on 24 – 25 November as both villages had acquired basic knowledge on vanilla cultivation. The Village School will be organized in some other villages in Mannem, Arso, and Arso Timur Districts, in Keerom Regency. The Village School is the series of activities followed up from the Village Head Workshop and Social Transformation School (STS) held in Wambes Village, Mannem District, Keerom Regency, on October 2022. The participants came from 12 villages in 4 districts from Keerom Regency and 3 villages from Jayapura Regency.

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