Pak Fredy: Organic SRI Farmer


I Wayan Setipriyadi, popularly known as Pak Fredy, was born in Taro, Gianyar, 57 years ago. He was brought up on a 3-ha farm that grew rice, vegetables and fruit. When the children became adults, the parents split the property up between their children, with Pak Fredy receiving 90 are as his share. Long before he first heard about permaculture in 2007, Pak Fredy used non-chemical fertilizers and companion planting. Today, about half of his land is given over to rice growing. Pak Fredy runs Bali Organic Corner, a retail and wholesale business selling rice, seedlings, compost, worms, herbs, tools and other products that contribute to a healthy and productive life.

 

What is your professional background?

 I went to school for only six years. In those days, my parents and society believed that farmers didn’t need anything more than an elementary school education, so I worked on the family farm until I was 17. I then studied woodcarving and worked in the wood carving industry for almost 25 years. In 1990, I returned to the family farm. The wood carving business had become stagnant and I wasn’t making enough money to support my family.

 

What natural fertilizers do you use?

 My family never used chemical fertilizers because we were already successful growing without them. We instead use traditional compost made from cow, chicken and pig manure. I apply this homemade fertilizer two times in a growing season. In 2007, I improved my compost by adding worms and leaves that started a fermentation process with the manure. I also concocted a non-chemical herbal pesticide spray that combines leaves and many other ingredients. I have different compost recipes for different applications. I even use certain leaves to keep flies and ticks off my cows.

 

Why is the System of Rice Cultivation, or SRI, eco-friendly?

 We plant seedlings one by one, not ten in a bunch. This makes each seedling grow strong and increases the yield because each plant has many off-shoots. I studied and counted the off-shoots. If ten are planted by the regular method, each seedling has only two off-shoots. But if we plant just one seedling, it can grow as many as 70 off-shoots. The rice grains are also larger. Bali and the world are undergoing a water crisis and SRI doesn’t need as much water. In this system, we don’t burn the rice straw (somi or jerami) but return the stalks to the soil so that it provides compost. I add fertilizer or spray which I make 100% myself so I can be assured that it doesn’t contain any chemicals.

 

What are the pros and cons of SRI?

 Sometimes it’s difficult to convince farmers that the SRI method really works better. The young seedlings are singly spaced further apart, so farmers think that SRI will produce less rice per are, but actually the yield is much higher. I make a special tool to weed my SRI rice paddies. SRI takes more human labor for planting and weeding, but farmers don’t have to pay for the high cost of chemical fertilizers.

 

Are organic SRI-grown rice fields vulnerable to diseases or pests?

My experience is that strong and healthy organic rice fields are rarely affected by diseases or pests. Organic farming is about creating a healthy environment – without using chemicals – that is strong enough to withstand invasions. These infestations are seasonal, so one must be prepared beforehand. I have found that plants grown on farms using chemicals are not strong and healthy enough to withstand attacks.

 

How do you pass on your knowledge?

 I always try to teach farmers how to use the best and most sustainable growing methods. I’m always ready to talk to farmers in the hope that they will change over to organic farming. Some are interested, some are just lazy and not creative or curious. Many hesitate to try something new which might fail or take a lot of work until they meet success. Maybe hand phones, watching TV and hanging out at the warung are more important to them.

 

Do you also offer classes?

 I teach one-day classes in beekeeping and honey production, how to grow using SRI methods and how to make compost with worms. I charge Rp100,000 to Rp300,000, depending on the number of students in the class. Instruction in organic farming takes longer, depending upon what the students already know. Actually, the study of organic farming is never finished. There is lots of trial and error before one attains success. I also do consultations with property owners and their staffs and help setup organic gardens at schools. I give tours of my gardens and rice fields.

 

What is so special about your red and brown rice?

My organic rice is milled to get rid of only the non-edible hull, but keeps the bran and berm with all the micronutrients. Chemically grown white rice, on the other hand, removes the hull, awn, bran and berm. My organic rice tastes way better than white rice. It’s much better for my chickens, too. They don’t get sick as often.

 

Where do you sell your rice?

 Most is sold to non-Indonesians at organic food markets and to restaurants. I usually sell my rice in 1-5 kg bags but also in larger quantities. I deliver to many areas with an additional charge depending on size of order.

 

What else do you sell?

 I have my own bees and sell beehives and honey. I have many repeat customers because my honey is very high quality. I also buy moringa leaves from my neighbor and sell moringa powder. I sell seeds and seedlings, too. I sell compost in 20 kg bags as well as composting worms.

 

What is your most unusual product?

 Most farming tools sold in Bali break quickly, but my Supertools are much sturdier and can last 10 years. If there’s a production defect, I’ll replace any tool. However, if the tool is used for the wrong purpose or left out in the rain or in the soil, that is damage caused by the user. In those case, I do not replace the tool.

 

What are the biggest obstacles keeping Balinese farmers from converting to organic cultivation?

 Many farmers today don’t have the soul of a farmer and don’t place much importance on healthy soil, healthy produce, healthy family, healthy earth and healthy and happy customers. Maybe they’ve just taken up farming for the money. They don’t realize that you can make money and still grow organically, respect the earth and have a happy soul.

 

Where can one learn more about your products?

 Check out www.indonesiaorganic.com/rice/bali-organic-corner. For questions, messages or to place an order, contact me via WhatsApp 0815-5674-2243 or tel. 0852-3718-3467.

 

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Copyright © 2018 Bill Dalton