Most families on Flores are smallholder farmers. Most own small-based plots of land on which they grow subsistence crops. They sell their crops mostly to middlemen. Farmers on Flores face many challenges, mostly related to low developed infrastructure. Many farming communities are located in remote regions and it takes hours to reach the larger local markets. In general they do not have direct access to the international markets and most farmers are not familiar with the up dated commodity prices.
Flores farmers suffer from drought, especially in the lower coastal areas. Climate change is expected to worsen the situation. One ‘forgotten’ crop is Sorghum. Sorghum is high in Calcium and can grow in a dry climate. Maria Loretha in Flotim is a Sorghum advocate, promoting this as a healthy food, to replace the regular rice diet minimum 3 times per week.
In 2015 I was invited by Nando Wato to Kampung Tebang, a small village near Lembor to attend a Sorghum promotion program for the local farming community organised.
It was a hassle to reach the village, first a public bus from Ruteng, get off at some crossing, waiting for someone with a motorbike to bring me up to the village and nobody in sight. Finally a teacher offered me a ride. The road was terrible and the last bit I had to walk. No problem because the views were spectacular. Happy to have a lift back down with Pak Tubur of Burung Indonesia who had a 4-wheel.
In June 2017 I joined Dr. Maria Geong – vice regent of West Manggarai – to the opening ceremony of a Soybean program in Desa Golo Sengang, near Sano Nggoang. The community receive technical support, equipment and seeds.
The road to this desa pretty much needs improvement along the whole route, the map indicates 2.49 minutes, it took us 4 hours to get there from Labuan Bajo