Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Model farmer from Indonesia honoured at the Asia-Pacific World Food Day celebration

Indonesia, 18 Oct 2004 -- Bangkok – Today, the FAO Regional Office in Bangkok has issued awards to five outstanding farmers from the Asia-Pacific Region. The farmers received the awards from HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn during the 2004 World Food Day celebration in Bangkok.

Below please find the citation used during the ceremony to highlight the achievements of the farmer from Indonesia.

Onah Lasmanah – agroforestry, Indonesia

Back in 1997, when men in her Indonesian village of Cimaragas on the western end of the island of Java refused to admit her to a farmers group, Mrs Onah Lasmanah decided she would start her own Harumsarmanis, a farmers group for women. In the midst of a financial crisis and unusual weather patterns brought on by El Nino, crops were failing and families were suffering in her village but – open to new ideas – Ibu Onah took a course in hydroponics and turned her farm green and bursting with life. Amazed by her success, her neighbours asked her to teach them how to farm the same way. Mrs Lasmanah started with 32 members of her women’s group and continued spreading knowledge out from there.

Besides El Nino, deforestation was also a factor of drought and soil problems. So Ibu Onah started planting mahogany trees on unused land near the village. Soon, it became a community forest, with everyone caring for the trees. Ibu Onah learned how to use the spaces in between the trees to plant rice, medicinal plants and other crops. Free range chickens and other animals roamed the land. It all brought steady income to the community while also creating a sustainable forest ecosystem.

Aside from improving the income of the villagers, 38 year old Ibu Onah understands the wider benefits caring for Indonesia’s forests brings to everyone, including her young son. “Indonesia is the lung of the world,’’ she says. Some might believe that planting a community forest is a hopeless pursuit. Ibu Onah knows better. She’s a woman who doesn’t take no for answer. She’s a woman who understands the power or yes. FAO is awarding her for outstanding achievement in agroforestry.

RAP 04/35C

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