Issue 21
Monday, 21 November 2016
Charles Darwin University
E-news
Bachelor of Engineering Honours student Bijay Lamsal and Masters of Engineering student, Rozeeta Thapa, together with Sarah Hobgen (Research Associate in Sumba) and villagers take velocity readings and depth measurements in irrigation channels.
Bachelor of Engineering Honours student Bijay Lamsal and Masters of Engineering student, Rozeeta Thapa, together with Sarah Hobgen (Research Associate in Sumba) and villagers take velocity readings and depth measurements in irrigation channels.

Students live in-country to help Indonesian famers

By Leanne Miles

A group of Charles Darwin University students has assisted farmers to solve crop and irrigation failure issues as part of an in-country field intensive in one of the poorest provinces in Indonesia.

The group of seven School of Environment and School of Engineering and IT students and eight Universitas Nusa Cendana students visited Kupang and Sumba as part of the two-week Eastern Indonesian Field Intensive (EIFI).

EIFI coordinator Dr Penny Wurm said that the research focused on irrigation infrastructure, water users and farmers groups, agricultural pests and access to agricultural information.

“The students collected data during interviews with farmers and recorded data using the Open Data Kit, an android phone app used to take photos, record the GPS location and also provide details of the issue,” she said.

Dr Wurm said the data collected indicated that poor irrigation, water delivery and pests were the main reasons for crop losses. 

“Field inspections indicated the urgent need to repair maintenance issues, while household interviews revealed patchy access to agricultural information on issues such as pest management, and limited transfer of information within the village,” she said.

“This meant smaller land-holders had limited skills and resources with which to solve pest problems, which is a key reason for crop failure in one of the poorest provinces in Indonesia.”

She said the experience provided students with regionally relevant and practical experiences in real-world problem-solving techniques and providing recommendations to relevant authorities.

“Students lived in villages and engaged in field work, which included collecting and analysing data and presenting their findings to government officials,” she said.

“The results of their findings will now be collated into a report and sent to officials in Indonesia so that they can take appropriate actions based on the recommendations.”

The program is supported by the New Colombo Plan and Plant Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre and is undertaken in collaboration with Universitas Nusa Cendana.

EIFI is an in-country field intensive for students interested in natural resources management, livelihoods and rural development issues and practice. For more information contact Penny Wurm E: penny.wurm@cdu.edu.au or T: 8946 6355.