A warm smile appeared in Elyani’s face when her hands held white oyster mushroom she had just collected from the mushroom farming incubator. That day, women group “Bedau Jaya” harvested their mushroom farming for the first time. The mushroom they had cultivated was part of facilitation done by Tropenbos Indonesia for the women group of Laman Satong village in the District of Ketapang , West Kalimantan.
Tropenbos is not alone in supporting the women activity. PT Kayong Agro Lestari, a subsidiary of ANJ Group, the nearest oil palm plantation to the village also gave their funding to contribute to the start of mushroom farming. After several meetings with Tropenbos Indonesia staff at field camp in Laman Satong, they agreed to contribute and provide funding to build the mushroom house. When the mushroom house was ready, Tropenbos Indonesia provided the facilitation to prepare the media to grow the mushroom, mentoring the daily care of the mushroom, teaching the harvesting technique and post harvesting production such as processing the mushroom into snacks.
Having the mushroom business is really like an answer to the dream of the women group in Laman Satong village. Most of the women here are housewives, who depend on their husbands who earn a wage as oil palm laborers to provide for their family. Having another source of income has always been their dream so that when Tropenbos Indonesia came with the idea of establishing a women's group to manage a mushroom farming, they responded enthusiastically to the idea. They formed six groups, each consisting of 6 women, and each group takes care of the mushrooms one day per week. Only on Sunday they will take a day off, but they still manage to check the mushroom.
Strengthening income through alternative livelihood is important to increase families’ welfare of the village community in order to support green environment programs. Environmental concern will probably put in less priority if they still have to struggle for day to day living. They will not be able to protect forest and other natural resources when they still need to extract the resources to get some cash to survive. Although the mushroom is not the only option because the village potential is still enormous, starting with this option has been very promising and not only the women group but also the village community has been very appreciative and proud of their mushroom farming.
As a result of their activity, the women now supply fresh mushrooms to the local market and to the kitchen of the oil palm company. They harvest around 3-4 kg of mushroom each day, generate an income of Rp30,000 per kilo. The regular buyers come from Ketapang and Siduk so that they are now even able to make a contribution to the village fund. This has built the confidence of the women, and it has gained them recognition from the village government.
The story of the mushroom farming in Laman Satong has spread fast and the simple mushroom house has been visited by many people from other villages who came individually or in group. They express their eagerness to learn and to replicate the mushroom model in their own village. Even institutions such as Gunung Palung National Park (GPNP) and ASRI have expressed their interest to replicate the mushroom farming. GPNP plans to replicate it for the villages surrounding the park, and ASRI for its chainsaw buyback program. (IRK)