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A New Day in Daka Danu

“Tana Tilu, Daiti Ihu luku mapa tiyang, tana mapa paku.”

(We must look for water springs so we can drink and wet land so we can plant vegetables for our consumption).
Sumba Anakalang Language, from book “Merajut Harmoni”

The Marapu community in Southwest Sumba is one of the community groups in Indonesia that still adheres to traditional values amidst the increasingly rapid development of the modern world. The Marapu tradition also plays a role in providing direction for people’s lives (way of life), one of which is in determining livelihoods. There is a saying that the Marapu people are born to be farmers. If eastern Indonesians like the Bugis people are generally famous for sailing the world with the motto “My Ancestors are Sailors,” Marapu people prefer farming as their main livelihood. Around 85 percent of the Marapu people work as farmers. The profession of a farmer has been passed down from generation to generation and has been going on for a long time. Farmers have the belief that land is an eternal source of livelihood. Commodities such as corn, vegetables, fruit, and cashew nuts are their main agricultural products. Even though the Southwest Sumba region has many challenges, such as extreme weather, soil fertility conditions, and water supplies in several areas, this has not dampened the enthusiasm of the Marapu people to continue farming.

This belief drives the Daka Danu Farmers Group (Poktan) in Pero Village, West Wewewa in choosing farming as their main livelihood. Before switching to horticulture, members of the Daka Danu group worked as tobacco farmers. Daka Danu group consists of 20 farmers (17 men and 3 women). Every day, the Daka Danu’s members are always eager to dig, prepare to plant cayenne pepper, and take care of the vegetables. Daka Danu group joined as one of the assisted farmer groups in the PERMATA Program which is supported by William & Lily Foundation (WLF) and implemented by the Bina Tani Sejahtera Foundation (YBTS) in Southwest Sumba since 2021. Various mentoring activities are carried out through material and practical training in the field such as Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). Initially, the Daka Danu group planted 1,300 chili trees. Even though the high rainfall caused 100 chili trees to fail to harvest, the Daka Danu Farmers Group managed to harvest 1,200 chili trees.
“Currently, we have succeeded in harvesting 8kg of chilies, selling for Rp. 50.000/kg and can get Rp 500.000 – Rp 600.000 from selling vegetables every week,” said Trimuliana Malo, one of Daka Danu’s member.

“We are very happy with this program because we have learned many things about how to plant vegetables properly. Even though we are not young anymore, we always feel fresh and young when we are in the garden” – Mikael Malo Bili (Head of Poktan Daka Danu).
Daka Danu Farmers Group also took the initiative to strive for the water supply which is a vital need for agriculture. The Poktan members also promised to continue learning and share the knowledge they gained from the PERMATA Program with other farmers in West Wewewa. “We hope to be able to meet household needs and send our children to school from this,” said Naomi Milla, the wife of the head of the Daka Danu farmer group.

Writer: Selvianus Katoda (YBTS)

Editor: Mariska Estelita (WLF)