In the beginning was a concern
Franciscan Ecopastoral service began its activities in 2000 in Flores, Indonesia. It is an integral part of the JPIC Commission of the Province of St Michael Archangel, functioning as its division of ecology. Its main concernis to empower the farmers and to upgrade their skills and capacity in cultivating their lands so as to enchance production, which will in turn help to improve their economic situation. In helping the farmers, the ecopastoral team promotes use of organic fertilizer to replace inorganic fertilizers, which have been promoted by the Indonesian government since the 1970s. Instead of increasing agricultural production, in organic fertilizers have endangered the quality of the soil and spoiled the ecosystem because of their use of pesticide and other chemical elements.
Ecopastoral promotes use these organic fertilizers and empowers the farmers themselves to produce them. It allows farmesr to help themselves while creatively using the maretials around them as raw material for organic fertilizers.
The production of organic fertilizers
Ecopastoral staff and farmers cultivate wet and for growing rice and dry land for growing vegetables.
Data on Empower Groups:
- 31 groups of farmers with about 400 farmers (2002 – 2015)
- 22 junior and senior high schools in Manggarai regency, Flores (2002 – 2015)
- 33 elementary schools (2002 -2015)
- 2015 – 2019: Ecopastoral offers internship program and Trainings on Organic Farming in the house of Ecopastoral Franciscan Centre.
- Ecopastoral Centre is located in Pagal, Flores, where the friars have a friary and postulant house.
- There are 12 staff members, 2 women (Ros and Litha) and 10 men (Andre, Latif, Dedi, Ans, Pudus, Jeny, Aris, Yani, Sergy, Kary).
- They run the program (administration and information for all groups).
- Ecopastoral staff cultivates wet and for growing rice and dry land for growing vegetables.
- Cattle-breeding is done for profit, but primarily to get raw material for organic fertilizers. The service has machines which multiply the production of organic fertilizers.
- Preparation of seeds of some local tress for forest conservation and water resources.
Preparation of seeds of some local tress for forest conservation and water resources.
Animation and Education Programs:
- To upgrade the practical knowledge and skills of the staff.
- Workshops for school teachers and students to promote organic agriculture and ecology in the curriculum in Manggarai regency. The Local government has studied this curriculum and will now promote it as an integral part of the school program.
- To learn and foster the local cultural wisdom, in accordance with the Franciscan spirit on ecology. The Ecopastoral team is welcomd by local people because of their concern for local cultural wisdom.
- To empower some local parishes, especially the youth, to conserve forest and water resources.
- To promote concern for gender issues and for disabled people.
- To introduce the spirituality of St Francis (the patron of ecology) to the people and students.
- To animate the farmers, through spiritual and pastoral services, showing that Christian faith urges them to care for nature.
- Ecopastoral works in collaboration with some other non-governmental groups, such as local NGOs (ex: Wahana Visi Indonesia, Sun Spirit Baku Peduli, Tana Nua and Ayo Indonesia).
- With the local government on program for forest and water conservation.
- With the deparment of education to promote the use of organic agriculture curriculums for the schools (elementary to senior high schools).
- With the local Church, especially some parish priest who are interested in ecology and organic agriculture.
- With religious congregations.
- With the department of Industry which offers some machines for the Ecopastoral service.