Smallholder Pasihan Plants Hope for Future Generations

8. September 2022|In Indonesia, Stories
Pasihan smiles at the camera next to him a young sengon tree

Pasihan is standing in his field, examining one of the trees he planted there barely a year ago. It is a hot and humid morning in Borneo. In the background, thousands of birds and insects make the characteristic sounds of the Indonesian rainforest. The smallholder sweeps a hand over the trunk with concentration and examines the condition of the bark. Pasihan nods with satisfaction. He is proud of how fast his trees are growing.

Pasihan looks into his young Sengon forest

It was not until 2021 that the smallholder, together with other farmers in the village of Jangkit, decided to participate in our 100 Million Trees project. Since then, he has been planting Sengon in his field. Already, some of his trees tower over him significantly. “For us farmers,” Pasihan tells us, “this is an exciting experiment.” It’s the first time smallholders have grown Sengon in Jangkit, he says. Now he recognizes the benefits of the fast-growing tree species. “The uniqueness of Sengon for me is that it allows intercropping,” Pasihan explains. His field grows durian trees and guava plants, among others, as well as banana perennials. This allows the smallholder to generate short- and medium-term income, while his trees grow larger week by week.

Already now – about a year after the start of the project in Jangkit – Pasihan has observed positive changes in his community. He and the other farmers have gained a lot of knowledge and now have a better understanding of agriculture and climate protection. This gives him courage in the face of advancing deforestation. “We see here,” Pasihan reports, “that our natural forests are threatened with extinction.” That’s why it’s so enormously important to plant trees, he says.

Pasihan shows his two children a young durian plant

With each seedling, Pasihan plants another piece of the future

“Trees capture all of the poison in the air. They guard and protect us. And more importantly –” Pasihan points to his two sons playing among the banana trees – “we can pass them on to our descendants in the future.” Although the boys are still too young to work in the field, they are already interested in their dad’s work. This becomes clear when Pasihan shows them how to care for a young durian plant. Attentively, the two follow their father’s every move. “I hope this plant grows magnificently. In a few years, you two will be able to taste the result of our work,” says the farmer.

The climate crisis poses numerous challenges for smallholder farmers in Borneo. But Pasihan’s story shows that it is worth looking to the future with hope. Just like his sons, the trees and plants in Pasihan’s field will continue to grow in the years to come. And with each new seedling, the smallholder farmer plants another piece of the future.