Originally published in IDN Times
Written by Dhana Kencana Translated by Adhitya Dido
Overpopulation is a problem Jakarta faces as one of the biggest cities in Indonesia. People are increasingly attracted to the capital city of the nation because of its economic opportunities.
This phenomenon not only affects people, but also the environment. The city has many open spaces converted into houses, offices, and more. It also suffers from pollution caused by people’s garbage.
The increasing population has a negative impact on food production and can lead to a food crisis. A short-term solution is to depend on food imports from other cities.
In addition, there is another problem: the quality of food (e.g. vegetables and fruits) is suffering because of the distance between cities. Carbon emissions from the vehicles that deliver food are also a concern.
This condition is pushing citizens in big cities to do their own farming in order to produce: Urban Farming.
Suharini Eliawati, Head of Food Security, Maritime Affairs and Agriculture (DKPKP) in Jakarta has agreed that there is no longer room for open farmland in Jakarta. According to her, people can instead grow their own food through urban farming.
Jakarta sees a lot of land conversion. So we are shifting our method of planting to be done to include spaces like second floors, rooftops, and offices, and not fields or other open lands. Pots or unused paint cans can be used as planting spaces” she said during the webinar: Utilizing Open Spaces for Urban Farming (via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S35P4jbq6zwYouTube Go JakFarm DKI Jakarta on Friday 15 December 2021).
Eli said urban farming gives households and communities access to a fresh, healthy, nutritious, and eco-friendly food supply. In addition, according to President Regulation No. 60 2020, urban farming can also preserve around 30% of open spaces, both for public use (20%) and for private use (10%).
Take the example of Utari, a mother who lived in Pondok Labu, South Jakarta. She successfully used an empty yard measuring 1x6 meters to grow a variety of plants like ginger, galangal, chili, pandan, lime, soursop, starfruit, and more.
“My yard is quite small. Because I am very fond of growing plants, I also get the benefit that whenever I need something to cook, I can simply harvest it from my own yard,” Utari said in a phone call with IDN Times on Wednesday, 2 March 2022.
Urban farming has been part of Utari’s life since she was young, and the habit has continued after eight years of marriage with Sulistio. They can rely on their harvest for their daily food needs, which is helping their financial situation.
“Instead of buying 6 pieces of chilies for 5 thousand rupiahs (4 USD), I decided to grow them myself and just pick them up whenever I need them. Faster and fresher! It also works for galangal. Why do we have to buy it if we can plant it in our backyard?” Utari said.
Aside from helping big cities to cut down on pollution, urban farming also plays a crucial role in adapting to climate change. It will eventually reduce CO2 rates in the air if it becomes more widespread, and more green open space will be created. In addition, urban air quality could be positively impacted urban farming.
Plants become a very expensive thing##
Urban farming also encourages people to reuse organic waste, which could assist the city in reducing its volume of waste, especially household waste.
Due to Jakarta’s high living costs, most people are hesitant about buying seeds for their own farming. Most of the citizens of Jakarta spend their money on living costs and food. There isn’t much chance to set aside money for buying seeds.
“I don’t have a specific expense related to seeds. Even if we could buy the seeds, we would have to think again before buying. At the end of the day, we can’t afford them. Plants are becoming an expensive commodity in Jakarta,” Utari said.
The 30-year-old woman is very thankful for the existence of SiPetaniDKI, which allows people to retrieve free seeds for free, especially for people living in Jakarta. To get these free seeds, you need only a Citizen ID.
She learned about SiPetaniDKI from the Instagram account of DKPKP Jakarta (@p2bpt_dkpkp). It was written that there is a service where people could retrieve plant seeds for free.
In the beginning, Utari was only doing it out of curiosity. She ended up re-ordering seeds regularly.
A mother of two children, she didn’t initially realize that seeds could be purchased online, from selection to delivery. SiPetaniDKI has become a solution for her getting seeds for her urban farming activity.
“I got really curious whether it is really free and easy to use or not. And it is. I don’t even need to come to the location where the seeds are; I just stay at my home, doing it all online. I could easily understand the form since it was written in Bahasa Indonesia, and it really help me as a mother. I just pick any plants I want to plant. I think it’s pretty easy” she responded with a smile.
Utari said that she was using this website for the last two years. In 2020, she ordered starfruit and lemon seeds. Then in 2021, she chose to order lime and starfruit seeds.
She found the quality of the seeds exceeded her expectations.
“Alhamdulillah (Thankfully), the seeds were excellent. The plant had grown from 30 cm in height to 1 meter and produced a lot of fruits. I ate the fruit with my family and the taste was fantastic. The seed quality was great and I am happy about that,” said Utari who was born in West Java, Indonesia.
Effective and efficient features
SiPetaniDKI is a program from DKPKP Jakarta that was initiated in 2017 to distribute plant seeds to people in Jakarta for free. This program is the implementation of Governor Instruction Jakarta No. 14 2018.
DKPKP Jakarta was trusted to organize and distribute urban farming materials to the public by providing free seeds for the people of Jakarta. Therefore, this program can hopefully encourage the citizens of Jakarta to utilize their empty land so it will increase the green open spaces in Jakarta.
SiPetaniDKI originally distributed the seeds in person. t. As part of the process, customers come directly to the DKPKP Office in Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta, to get the seeds.
With the movement restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic, DKPKP needed to change its service and take all of its activities online. This happened in collaboration with Perkumpulan OpenStreetMap Indonesia (POI).
POI is a local entity that was formerly the Indonesian office of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT), a non-profit organization that focuses on humanitarian and capacity development through the use of the open mapping platform, OpenStreetMap. OpenStreetMap is a free and open-mapping platform that allows all users to map, edit, and get data for free.
POI has developed a free, open-source, and crowdsourced website using the platform Ushahidi. Their website has become a platform where people can share information about their urban farming activities in Jakarta. All of this data is based on location, so people can use it when they need to order seeds.
Since 30 September 2020, the service for getting seeds for free could be accessed through the website https://openstreetmap.id/dkpkp.
Any member of the public can order any of 14 types of seed across 5 regions in Jakarta: West, South, Central, North, and East Jakarta. The online ordering system includes the cost of shipping.
The map features that are available on SiPetaniDKI have helped Utari when she needed to order seeds. She could easily choose and estimate the closest location where she should order the seeds and could calculate the delivery cost. The location given on the websites is clear enough to also make it easier for the courier to track and deliver the package.
“They also provide a map on the web that really helps me a lot. I can see where the nearest seed delivery location is from my home. It is recommended to order from Ciganjur and Ragunan. The courier also finds it very convenient because they can find the pickup and delivery point easily. It’s great.” Utari said.
One of the senior staff from DKPKP Jakarta, Teguh Kurniawan, said that what makes SIPetaniDKI different from similar services is the map feature that provides the information such as the distribution of urban farming locations, seed locations, and free pest clinic consultations.
“People who want to get the seeds can access it. If there is anyone who wants to know about their seeds and pest control, this also can be done using SiPetaniDKI, for free. We will deploy our pest controller staff so they can give advice and solutions for their problem,” Teguh said to IDN Times, on Friday 11 February 2022.
For Teguh himself, SiPetaniDKI is becoming a lifesaver for his staff to make a database of urban farming activities in Jakarta. This website is also becoming a bridge between DKPKP Jakarta and farmers and people of Jakarta for distributing and marketing the produce of their farms in their own areas.
Head of Operations of POI, Dewi Sulistioningrum, said to IDN Times, Monday 4 April 2022, that POI also kept its commitment as a partner to DKPKP Jakarta to fulfill the Grand Design of Urban Farming Activities in Jakarta. One of POI’s actions to support those commitments was by providing a free and open-source geospatial dataset so it could be used by the public, including the people of Jakarta.
“The data shown in SiPetaniDKI can be downloaded publicly for free. But the data that is submitted to DKPKP is becoming the responsibility of POI to manage.” Dewi said in text messages.
The implication of this work is that the limitation of open spaces and the high cost of getting plant seeds is not hampering the spirit of making your own farm or garden for better earth!