Writer: Rojana Manowalailao, ASEAN Sustainable Agrifood Systems
Be daring: Grow organic
Eddy Tanoto Sukardi, Managing Director of Taman Simalem Resort, speaks about his business model in combining agriculture, ecology, and tourism and how it can be turned truly sustainable. In this 30-minute interview with ‘Be My Guest’ programme of National Broadcasting Thailand (NBT) in Bangkok, Mr. Sukardi shares a behind-the-scene success, challenges, difficulties and strategies to overcome all the odds.
He admitted that in the beginning when it was just a start, the resort used a lot of chemicals in agriculture to protect their produces and boost the productivities. However, after several visits and advice from GIZ, the German supported implemented agency for sustainable development, experts, he knew that it was best for all to convert to the environmental friendly approach.
“We thought we needed chemicals, but we were wrong. The productivities dropped after three years. GIZ told us we had to be daring [to change] to grow full-born organic, and from 2012 till now since we converted, the productivity has been increased. Starting from 13 crops, now we grow 55 crops, and our farmers have had their incomes increased to 20 times.”
Mr. Sukardi also told about his youth programme to create the organic farming generations with solid sustainable knowledge and sense of belonging in taking care of their own ancestor’s lands. In addition, he encourages others entrepreneurs to replicate the model in hoping that the ASEAN region will be living in less chemical environment.
“We told farmers to at least a few plots of land for organic farming for future generation. With a lot of compost inside, with no chemicals inside, this land can turned into gold mine,” he said.
Mr. Sukardi recently visited Thailand to attend The Regional Knowledge Sharing Consultation “Sustainable Agrifood Systems for Food Security and Sustainable Development in the ASEAN Region”, organised by ASEAN Sustainable Agrifood Systems project.
Taman Simalem Resort, the Islamic University of North Sumatra, and the German supported ASEAN Sustainable Agrifood Systems (ASEAN SAS) worked jointly together in a project ‘Empowerment of Farmer’s Communities for Sustainable Eco-friendly Practices on Growing Horticultural Crops in the North Sumatra’ from 2013-2015. The objective was to promote sustainable production of horticultural in the Karo Highlands.