INDONESIA, JUNE 2004

Date: 
26/06/2004
Country: 
INDONESIA

26 June 2004
I am writing at Soekarno-Hatta airport in Indonesia. The last week has been very busy. We have been trying to create a website for the Ørskov Foundation. Chen has been very busy setting it up. So I’m in Indonesia again, the next trip will be to Yogya where I will be met by Bu Kustantinah and Bu Yuni. On this trip we are going to go to Sumatra which will be the first time that I have been there.

3 July 2004
Time just flies when I am here. I was first taken to the Sahid Hotel on Saturday because there was no room in the Quality Hotel where I actually prefer to stay. I went to the lab on Sunday morning and in the afternoon I went to my favourite village Wonolagi, the Rotary village where we are to see if it is possible to build a bridge. The river was low so we could walk across. The pump I gave them some time ago at the opening of the goat project is now working regularly 16 hours a day; it is a fantastic success story. Today I was lecturing for three hours and I had a meeting about the Darwin Initiative with the staff at Gadjah Mada. We then had dinner at Pring Sewu. I was lecturing again on Tuesday and went back to Soka village where I bought some wooden ducks. This is the place where the main product produced is coconut sugar derived from tapping the coconut flowers. On Thursday night we had to travel to Semarang, a four-hour drive, to meet the staff there, stay there for the night then lecture on Friday morning. We returned on Friday afternoon and attended the Yogyakarta Rotary Club meeting. They had a changing of Presidents. Today we had a meeting with students from Malang, Majuki and Bu Indah, and then an examination with Bu Witika and then again speaking to staff. It has been a fantastically busy week but tomorrow we are on our way to Bengkulu, Sumatra, for the first time.

5 July 2004
I am now in Bengkulu, Sumatra, in the Oil Palm Plantation Guesthouse. The guesthouse is reasonable, I have a single room, but we had to go and find some towels first. In fact it reminded me a little of my earlier trip to Zimbabwe where we got a room with no towels, the reason was that there was no water either, so I told them the story about that. I found that the Brits actually left Bengkulu 180 years ago as this was part of the spice trade until 1827 then they moved to Singapore instead of Bengkulu. So here there is a British fort and a British prison. Sumatra is much less populated than Java with much more space. They have rubber plantations, cacao plantations and oil palm plantations. It is the oil palm plantations which we have to look at tonight and tomorrow. The hotels here are good, but not as good as Yogya I have to lecture all day on Wednesday and leave on Thursday. There are so many things I would like to write about on this occasion but this I have not done, particularly about Soka village and Wonolagi. The success stories are so fantastic. Anyway, here the lecturing was alright I think. I just wish to know where we can get money for the projects here. Rusmana the young chap, who took us around at the plantation, came to the lecture all the way from Bengkulu – very nice. He seemed a good chap though he worked for a while for an American company in West Papua or Irian Jaya where they have done some terrible things to the local indigenous population. There are many interesting things we can see now about oil palm plantations which I did not know before. Some years ago they oil palm plantations here gave the workers a cattle beast to pull a little truck where they could put 20 oil palm bundles on the truck with the Bali cattle. They found that this actually increased the workers’ capacity by 50% to take the bundles to a drivable road instead of carrying them. Not only this, they found that there was plenty food for the animals from the fronds of the banana from the oil palm leaves when they were cutting them. Not only this, they found they could feed many more so in the morning when the worker comes with the Bali cattle with the truck he brings about ten more cattle because there is plenty food for them. In fact they find that they can feed two cattle per hectare and even improve the oil palm yield at the same time and yet they are importing cattle from Australia for fattening. This is certainly something that ought to change.