By Supriyati; Rusastra, I Wayan; Saptana

* Collaborative research between Food Security Council of the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture with UNESCAP-CAPSA and ICASEPS, Bogor

The Participatory Integrated Development in Rainfed Areas (PIDRA) Programme is a collaborative activity between the Agency of Food Security (Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), pursuant to Loan Agreement No. 539-ID. The programme is intended to boost farmers' income, develop a sustainable farming system through the conservation of natural resources, encourage group farming and the participation of women as well as ensure food security in rural areas (BKP, 2006). The programme was implemented in two phases: 2001-2004 and 2004-2008.

The focus of PIDRA activities is the economic empowerment of poor communities with a gender perspective. It was implemented by establishing a favourable environment to improve the life of poor families in dryland areas. Empowerment, as defined in the PIDRA programme, focused on: (1) community and gender development; (2) agricultural and livestock development; (3) infrastructure development in rural areas; (4) institutional and managerial support; (5) rural micro-business development; and (6) community-based resources management. Empowerment was achieved through training activities and continual assistance offered by the programme executor in collaboration with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). Through PIDRA, it is expected that poor people living in marginal areas will successfully ameliorate their lives as well as ensure food security in the respective area.

The empowerment of poor people in marginal areas was sought with the assistance and training of Extension Workers (EW), Field Technical Instructors (FTI) and Capacity Development Facilitators (CDF), all of whom were provided either by the programme executor or NGOs. In addition, programme executor management was handled from the central government level right through to the village level. Programme management was also supported by an executor commission at the district level involving organizations related to rural empowerment.

With the termination of the PIDRA programme in 2008, this article aims to analyse the impact of the programme on people empowerment by considering five key aspects, namely: (1) the dynamic achievements of the PIDRA programme; (2) its economic impact; (3) social impact; (4) environmental impact; and (5) institutional impact.

Research methodology
PIDRA was implemented in 14 districts spread over three provinces: East Java, West Nusa Tenggara and East Nusa Tenggara. The analysis was conducted in Central South Timor district, which was one of the 14 districts incorporated in the PIDRA programme. The respondents included related institutes, key informants and field respondents. The related institutes were the Food Security Office, Agricultural Office and Food Security Council, at both the provincial and district levels. Key informants included policymakers, agricultural/food security development planners and executors, NGOs, extension workers, public figures and other relevant key informants.

A descriptive policy analysis was applied using the monitoring and evaluation report, secondary data as well as the programme's impacts, supplemented with related references and reports.

Dynamic achievements of the PIDRA programme
People development and gender equality
The establishment of Autonomous Groups (AG) in Central South Timor (CST) province began in phase I of PIDRA. The number of AG in CST totalled 240; consisting of 126 Male Autonomous Groups (MAG), 63 Women Autonomous Group (WAG) and 51 Mixed Autonomous Groups (MxAG) scattered across 24 villages in seven sub-districts. In the initial phase most AG were Male Autonomous Groups (MAG). This was inextricably linked to local traditions that ensure women always come second. Over time, however, the number of MAG decreased, while MxAG increased and women autonomous groups (WAG) remained the same. By 2008, the total number of AG incorporated 3,423 people with a ratio of 56 per cent male to 44 per cent female. This indicated that the participation of women in AG tended to increase as a result of positive impacts from the gender equality programme.

The evaluation results for the establishment of autonomous groups in Central South Timor was as follows: Very Good = 33 per cent; Good = 48 per cent; Average = 15 per cent; and Below Average = 4 per cent. Some improvement indicators of the AG included: (1) satisfactory advancement of AG, particularly in terms of capital accumulation in collaboration with Micro Financial Institutions (MFI), and in the loans-savings programme; (2) good technology application through the growth of permanent farming, crop-livestock integration, terraces to support plants and rainfed harvests; (3) the success of the gender programme was indicated by an expansive increase in the participation of women and greater awareness regarding the urgency of family education; and (4) the establishment of a collaborative network with MFI, district offices, the World Food Programme (in the food-labour intensive programme) and the National Programme for People Empowerment (NPPE) (in the Village Agribusiness Programme). The problems associated with AG enhancement included the low capacity of human resources (education) of the AG members, limited access to information and constraints in business development.

The Village Development Institution (VDI) in Central South Timor district was established in 2005. The VDI was tasked with integrating PIDRA investment to manage natural resources for rural development. Thus, VDI is responsible for the development of rural infrastructure and integrated natural resources management. The establishment of VDI was achieved through collective deliberations. Of the 24 VDIs, 50 per cent were rated good and 17 per cent were average. The success of VDI was determined by capacity, capability and the enthusiasm of its members. Currently, VDI are involved in the development scheme at a district level.

The federation in PIDRA villages was initiated by AG/primary co-operation. The federation is expected to become a Micro Financial Institution (MFI) at the village level that can meet the needs of its members in terms of obtaining capital, providing production facilities and marketing the products. Most of the federations were formed in 2007 and were closely related to the preparedness of rural people to establish an economic institution in their respective area. Around 10 AGs were not affiliated with a federation due to a lack of awareness regarding the AGs' requirements for capital, production facilities and product marketing.

From the 24 federations set up in PIDRA villages, 33 per cent were rated very good, 38 per cent good, 25 per cent average and 4 per cent not performing. The role of the federations as MFI was often sub-optimal due to several constraints, including: (1) limited network for capital accumulation, the purchase of agricultural inputs and product marketing; (2) insufficient training and business diversification; (3) low business self-sufficiency; and (4) limited capital availability and access.

The development of on-farm, off-farm and non-farm micro businesses
In Central South Timor in 2008, 44 per cent of AG members had established micro businesses consisting of on-farm (28 per cent), off-farm (2 per cent) and non-farm (14 per cent) activities. The scale of this micro business was pre- business self-sufficiency (BS) I and II. This indicated that there were still constraints in developing micro businesses, such as: (1) limited skill and insufficient raw materials; (2) limited business improvement due to capital constraints; (3) the existence and limitation of business units' institutional role; (4) a weak capital network and inadequate product marketing; and (5) insufficient financial services to finance micro businesses.

The primary source of micro-business funding was the Samamora Micro Financial Institution (MFI), while other MFIs were not fully involved. Samamora provided loans for the operation of AG and federations. The loans were uncollateralized and based merely on mutual trust. It was further made possible due to assistance given by programme management.

The development of rural infrastructure
The infrastructure was development based on necessity, such as: (1) need for water; (2) improved food security; (3) healthy dwellings; (4) improved marketing efficiency; and (5) improved programme recipients. Several activities that required a comparatively large contribution of manpower resulted in the following: (1) the making of embung (small water basin), which was considered to be the most profitable, however its quantity (large/small) needed to be increased; (2) 61 per cent rice barn construction; (3) little progress on the construction of healthy dwellings (5 per cent); and (4) the construction of a PIDRA main gate and multi-purpose building to improve the welfare of poor communities.

The development of people-based natural resources
In Central South Timor villages, most land is dominated by clans who decided land ownership and was mainly dominated by shared-croppers. Land availability was still abundant and access to land resources was good depending on the ability to till the land. Currently, the average size plot of cultivated land was 0.7 hectares and certificated land remained limited.

The development of natural resources was implemented through the following: (1) 70 per cent terrace construction; (2) 84 per cent planting of terrace support plants. The plant species used were those with high economic value, such as teak, mahogany, sono keling (pierocarpus indicus), sengon (albizzia chinensis), damar (agathis dammara), kemiri (aleurites moluccana), jambu mete (anacardium occidentale); and (3) improvement of conserved farm land, integration of plants and livestock with programme facilities covering farm intensification, vaccination, compost and biogas production. The impacts of natural resources development include: (1) improvements in production, income and food security; and (2) improvements in water reserves (embung and water sources) for farming and household consumption.

The impact of the PIDRA programme
Economic impacts
Loans and savings activities showed positive progress as a result of improvements in the availability of general funding at the AG/federation level. The loans of AG members were primarily used for productive activities to augment their regular income. With this loans and savings system, poor households no longer had to deal with moneylenders.

Access to loans by the AG from the federation during 2007-2008 tended to decline due to new requirements that stipulated AG loans must originate from an MFI. This was possibly due to the flow of repayments to MFI. Meanwhile, the capital intensification fund and PIDRA programme fund were used to develop the businesses established by the federation, such as federation kiosks and product marketing. Even though there was an increase in the income of AG/federation members due to improvements in micro business from year to year, the income of people enrolled in the PIDRA programme remained low ranging from Rp. 600.000-Rp. 1.200.000,- per year.

The PIDRA programme, with its focus on people empowerment and capital facilitation, was able to create and bolster micro businesses, particularly on-farm, off-farm and non-farm activities. However, the growth of micro business was relatively low at just 0.2-1.86 per cent per year. Expanding micro businesses provided employment for poor families and ultimately increased income, food security and nutrition, which is indicated by an improvement in asset ownership and the consumption pattern (in terms of amount, type and frequency).

Up to 2008, the average tillage for AG members was 0.7 hectares, which was dominated by shared-croppers. The National Land Agency developed landholder certification but it remained limited. The expansion of tillage depended on the ability of workers to cultivate the land. It was difficult to develop the land using simple land cultivation technology. Agricultural mechanism support was, subsequently, required to cultivate dry land.

Social impact
With the empowerment programme implemented since 2001, those enrolled have been able to conduct business management on a small scale. Saving habits have been nurtured with members' savings used as one component of the general fund. However, the proportion of savings in the total general fund remained small but with an increasing trend. Saving habits also had an impact outside the group, which was evidenced by growth in loans and savings programmes outside the group.

The socialization of gender equality had a positive impact on the distribution of duty and the roles of men and women. In a family, not all domestic tasks were lumbered on the women. Men assisted women if they were members of a Women Autonomous Group (WAG) on land-based businesses. To improve household welfare, seeking additional income became the responsibility of both men and women.

Another impact was the growth of group behaviour, which can be seen in the establishment of AG. With AG, both men and women became familiar with jointly planning and discussing activities, managing problems and running the business as a group. This instilled more confidence in poor communities when they were able to create and manage an active autonomous group. Businesses (either run individually or in group) gave greater confidence to poor communities. Social interaction among poor communities, both in society and in groups, improved. Furthermore, the dependence of such communities on direct aid (natural resources or money) declined.

Environmental impacts
The PIDRA programme was able to advance the slash and burn farming system to a settled farming system, with slash and burn currently representing just 30 per cent in CST. Adopting a settled farming system has triggered a number of changes such as farm intensification and integrated farming (crop + livestock).

Land and water conservation was achieved through the construction of terraces and planting terrace supporting crops. Such measures successfully increased water availability, which was demonstrated by an increase in water capacity and availability from 2.0 months to 5.5 months after the end of the rainy season, as well as relatively stable well water reserves during the dry season. The integrated farming system (crops + livestock) inspired the innovation of practical technology in some villages, such as the processing of biogas and livestock waste. Nowadays the use of biogas has intensified, especially for cooking. The environmental impact of this activity was a decrease in the use of firewood thus saving forests from excessive logging activity.

The conservation of land and water from year to year is escalating. During the period of 2007-2008, the building of terraces increased by 36-45 per cent. The use of terrace supporting crops increased by 32 per cent with 84 per cent actual implementation. In addition, the increase in water traps and mini embung construction was particularly noteworthy. This was due to generous contributions from government offices within the CST district.

The conservation of land and water together with water capture activities through the construction of embung and water traps prolonged water availability until August/September. Through the use of an embung the surrounding land could be utilized to plant productive crops, as well as MCK (ablutions) and household facilities.

Institutional impacts
The PIDRA programme led to the development of AG, VDI and federation institutions. These institutions were involved in the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of activities that were funded by the PIDRA programme as well as other parties. It also involved existing village institutions, such as Family Welfare Improvement (FWI) and People's Development Institution (PDI). This indicated that organizations such as AG, VDI and the federations were fully recognized. Also, one AG was involved in group competition.

Collaboration with FWI, in particular the Gender Mainstream Programme (GMP), extended the socialization and implementation of the gender equality programme outside of the recipients' group. Collaboration with PDI encouraged synergy and improved efficiency in the development of rural infrastructure.

Growth of agribusiness institutions at the business and village levels remained limited. The existing economic federation was unable to create a solid agribusiness institution. However, on a limited scale one federation was able to create an agribusiness institution for the provision of production inputs, capitalization and product marketing. Regarding capital, the only connection to financial institutions outside the village was with Samamora. The same was true for marketing aspects.

Improvements to rural economic structure occurred gradually, which among others was indicated by micro business growth and greater farm intensification. Rural-urban economic integration was not realized, however, with some AG members non-formally selling their produce in the towns.

Conclusions and policy implications

  1. People empowerment through the PIDRA programme was carried out in a participative way with intensive and continual assistance and training using a group approach. Programme recipients benefited in terms of economic, social and institutional aspects; however, poverty alleviation still requires sustained efforts.
  2. he economic impacts of the PIDRA programme were: (a) the creation of on-farm, off-farm and non-farm micro businesses that provide employment and income growth; (b) AG were able to conduct economic activities; and (c) agricultural development as well as land and water conservation increased production and prolonged water availability. The economic impacts were ultimately able to improve household food security, which is hoped will help pull those affected out of abject poverty.
  3. The social impacts were reflected by a change in mindset as well as positive insights, such as: (a) stronger self-confidence in the poor communities; (b) more widespread group work, which was indicated by the ability to plan activities; problem solve and run businesses in a group; (c) better saving habits; and (d) better gender equality in households and the groups.
  4. The environmental impacts in PIDRA villages were evidenced by: (a) less slash and burn farming; (b) land and water conservation increased water availability, for ablutions (MCK) and farming; and (c) less logging due to lower demand for firewood for cooking, which was substituted by biogas.
  5. The institutional impacts that benefited the programme recipients were: (a) growth of AG, VDI and federations that served as MFI at the village level; (b) PIDRA institutions were fully acknowledged, which enabled them to get involved with development planning, implementation and monitoring, as well as evaluation; (c) PIDRA, in co-operation with other institutions such as FWI and PDI, carried out PUG and infrastructure development; and (d) economic institutions (e.g. federations) have not, hitherto, provided many benefits as they remain relatively new.
  6. Dry land expansion through the PIDRA programme was successful even though it was not able to eradicate poverty completely. The local government, together with the provincial and central governments, must maintain and enhance the sustainability of the programme by considering a strategic replication policy for the programme. The success of PIDRA, if complemented with agricultural infrastructure development, will stimulate the private sector to play a more effective role in rural development. Private sector participation is expected to expedite improvements to food security, poverty alleviation, and diversification in the agricultural and rural economies.