Communities Receive Hand Tractors As Alternative to Land Clearing
PANGKALAN KERINCI – Finding a long-term response to the recurring issue of fire and haze from agricultural land-clearing is about understanding the root causes and working with the communities on alternative solutions.
Nine villages that are part of APRIL Group’s Fire Free Village Program received hand tractors from PT. Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper, the operations unit of APRIL Group, for their use in their village farms. Representatives from Pelalawan, Sering, Kuala Tolam, Kuala Panduk, Petodaan, Teluk Meranti, Segamai, Teluk Binjai, and Pulau Muda villages attended the handover ceremony, presided by Pelalawan regent chief H. M Harris, at APRIL’s Farmers and Small Business Enterprises Training center (BPPUT) in Pangkalan Kerinci.
APRIL rolled out the Fire Free Village Program (FFVP) in 2015, a five pronged approach to prevent land and forest fire, including Sustainable Agricultural Alternatives. APRIL assists communities by providing them with knowledge as well as tools to prepare land without the use of fire. The long-term goal of the FFVP is to influence mindset and change land management practices towards fire-resilient communities.
“We’re very happy … because this will help us in preparing our land,” said Musri Efendi, Teluk Binjai village chief.
Meanwhile, Helmi from Kuala Tolam village, who is also a FFVP crew leader, said the tool will help villagers who are mostly rubber and oil palm farmers prepare their land more efficiently. “We won’t need to rent the hand tractor. This is for our own use,” Helmi added.
Before the handover ceremony, appointed members of the villagers were trained on how to operate the machine.
In his speech, Pelalawan regent chief H.M Harris said the tractors will help villages prepare land effectively and as a result, boost their income. “I am pleased to note that the Fire Free Village Program has been increased to 20 villages this year and that other companies have adopted this under the Fire Free Alliance. We hope this program can be implemented by many more companies in the future,” he said.
Rudi Fajar, RAPP Director, noted that aside from the award schemes to the villages that are successful in keeping their areas fire-free, the provision of hand tractors will enable them to support their agricultural needs without resorting to burning. “It is important to provide concrete solutions as alternatives to burning to the communities rather than just telling people not to burn,” Rudi said.