We are really pleased to be supporting this new partnership with Fauna & Flora International as we have been looking for just the right project in Indonesia for a while.
We like Fauna & Flora International’s underlying ethos to establish genuine partnerships with local communities by sharing their expertise and experience, understanding local knowledge, and building capacity in order for communities to help themselves long into the future, especially as the aim is to ensure local solutions, which are led and owned by local people.
Fauna & Flora recognize that unfortunately some people are so poor that they have to resort to activities that are damaging to the natural world in order to make an income and so whilst they want to conserve the biodiversity they provide benefits to the local community too.
In Sumatra, Indonesia the traditional agricultural system focuses on rice production for consumption and sale if there is any surplus, plus a small area of tree or shrub based cash crop, most commonly rubber or oil palm. The average monthly income for a household in the project area is approximately 1 million rupiah, or about £2.20 per day.
In recent years communities have been increasingly encouraged to convert their land to monocultures such as palm oil, leaving them perilously exposed to the vagaries of international commodity prices.
This two year pilot project will focus on selected forest edge farming communities in two districts (Merangin, Jambi, Muko Muko, Bengkulu) bordering Kerinci Seblat National Park in central western Sumatra where Fauna & Flora International feel there is an exciting opportunity to use the seeds from the kepayang, a tree native to the forest, but where the seeds are no longer harvested.
The project will create a targeted pilot community livelihoods project focused on the development of a specialist commercial market for oil produced from the seeds of Pangium edule or Kepayang, a forest tree native to Sumatra Island.
Kepayang oil is mainly used for cooking purposes in local communities however, following investigation into the potential of this oil, it is understood that together with the market opportunity of this product in the food industry (the oil tastes like olives with a hint of honey and sesame), the oil’s greatest potential is in fact for cosmetic and skin care treatments, as it can be used as a wonderful moisturising and massaging oil.
In Sumatra the tree is fast growing, reaching 12-15m+ within 6-7 years and producing its first fruits within 7-8 years. A young tree (7-8 years) will produce around 10Kg of oil per year and this rises substantially with age. Expensive fertilizers are unnecessary, nor are pesticides or herbicides, in fact the trees are already available in the forest. But, in recent years as a cash economy has developed in even remote areas of central Sumatra, the number of villagers harvesting their Kepayang trees has reduced because production of the oil is time-consuming and there is currently no commercial market for the oil.
This project aims to change this current situation, developing a new source of income for forest-edge farmers, and pioneering a market for an oil that research indicates offers substantial health benefits and multiple uses. In addition this agricultural product will be based on small-holder production communities rather than large plantation companies.