In Tanjung Harapan Village, Batu Ampar District, Kubu Raya Regency, West Kalimantan, the forest bees (Apis Dorsata) that are cultivated by the residents are able to produce two tons of honey every month. From this honey, the cooperatives that were established by the villagers were able to generate a turnover of Rp. 300 million per month. Now residents work hand in hand, so that their efforts to oppose the entry of oil palm plantations will always bear sweet fruit.
Ismail races his iron horse towards the mangrove forest in Tanjung Harapan Village. That morning, he was not alone, along with five members of his group, Ismail traveled for twenty minutes to reach the end of the village road. From there, they continued on by motorized boats to the coastal forest to harvest honey.
Ismail's target to harvest forest honey is the fastest to reach by water transportation. "The distance by water can take 60-90 minutes, depending on the point of harvesting of the bees' houses," said Ismail.
With an outboard engine boat with a capacity of 53 cc, a group of honey bee farmers led by Ismail continues to divide the mangrove forest. After some time, the speed of the boat began to slow down when it arrived at the dense mangrove forest. That day, the honey harvesting location was in the Dusun Karya Indah area. After arriving they were rushed to make fumigation with a posong.
Posong is a twist of dry nipah leaves that are joined together with fresh leaves. The leaves are then burned to trigger smoke. Fumigation is usually done to expel the bees for a moment away from the hive. At that time, the honey bee nest to be harvested was in a large and tall mangrove tree.
While each large tree, there are usually three to nine nests. But even though beehives are abundant, harvesting honey is not an easy matter. Especially if you choose the wrong method, the harvester's life is at stake. Rosid, a member of the group who has experience climbing trees, is trusted to speed up their work to harvest honey.
After smoking, the bee colony moves away from the hive. It didn't take long, Rosid immediately lowered the honeycomb from the tree. "After the harvest process, the process will continue on land by collecting the honey from the hive by draining it," said Ismail, Head of the Village Forest Management Institute (LPHD) in Tanjung Harapan Village.
Sustainable harvesting is a technique commonly used by honey farmers in Tanjung Harapan Village. Sustainable harvest requires all equipment used to be clean and sterile so that the quality of the honey is not damaged.
At one harvest, a group of five to ten farmers can harvest 200-300 kilograms of honey. To date, in Tanjung Harapan Village, six mangrove forest honey farmer groups have been formed. The six groups also have a certificate from the village government to harvest honey.
However, there are also honey harvesters from among the villagers who have been dealing with forest honey for a long time. All of the group's crops are then sold to the Mandiri Honey Business cooperative. From there, the farmers will receive additional money from the remainder of the honey sales business which is distributed annually.
"After being sold to the cooperative, the honey produced by the group will be packaged and marketed by the cooperative with a selling price of around IDR 150 thousand per kilogram," he said.
Apart from Ismail, in Tanjung Harapan Village there is also Sarbandi. His family life has been helped since he joined the honey group. In fact, he was also sent to attend training on how to modify honey bee hives in Danau Sentarum, Kapuas Hulu Regency in 2016. At that time, the training was initiated by the NGO Sahabat Masyarakat Pantai (SAMPAN) Kalimantan.
"Since receiving the training, I am grateful that I have been able to gain new insights on how to harvest honey properly and be able to modify tikung. The knowledge can be shared with residents in the village, "he explained.
Tikung is an artificial branch that is deliberately placed in low trees so that bees want to nest. He proposed placing the nests on the lower mangrove branches so that honey bees can be harvested easily.
When met at his office, the director of SAMPAN Kalimantan, Dede Purwansyah, said the large potential for honey in the mangrove forest of Tanjung Harapan Village. According to him, harvesting forest honey is a side job for the villagers, which so far has not been taken seriously. This is because selling honey is done by the people on the sidelines of their fishing activities or producing copra.
According to Dede, the mangrove forest used to produce forest honey is estimated at 1000 hectares. Tanjung Harapan residents themselves have started to seriously farm honey since they obtained the village forest management permit. "There are 300 tikung that have been developed by the group to be harvested," he explained.
Thanks to the permit to manage the village forest, the mangrove forest on the Coast of Tanjung Harapan Village is maintained. From the results of SAMPAN Kalimantan's research, the Padang Tikar coastal landscape includes Tanjung Harapan Village, which is the place for the most comprehensive and richest mangrove ecosystem in Southeast Asia. The total area of the sustainable mangrove forest reaches 59,847 hectares.
The stretch of mangrove forests in the Padang Tikar Coast also represents 33 percent of the 202 mangrove species recorded in Indonesia, or 47 percent of the total 150 mangrove species on the island of Borneo. The preserved mangrove forest spread is a blessing for local residents.
"Mangrove forests for residents of Tanjung Harapan Village are like supermarkets that provide many sources of life," he explained.
Apart from mangrove forest honey, in Tanjung Harapan Village, the Social Forestry Business Group (KUPS) which is part of the Tanjung Harapan LPHD also initiated mangrove forest ecotourism, crab cultivation and kelulut honey bees. So even though it was only pioneered a year ago, many fishermen are curious about traveling to the mangrove forest.
"Since the opening of the ecotourism nearly two hundred people have visited. If on Sundays and holidays the visitors can reach 20 people, they are only charged a round trip crossing tariff of Rp. 3000 to enter the eco-tourism location, "he said.
Meanwhile, in the ecotourism area, residents develop crab cultivation (silvofishery) and kelulut honey. In the future, the land for crab cultivation is planned to be expanded to 400 hectares from the existing three hectares of land. Expansion is needed to support efforts to fatten and enlarge crabs cultivated with cages.
"Meanwhile, in the early stages, nine crab cultivation groups have been formed with fourteen cages. Residents can already harvest 30 kilograms of crabs at a selling price of Rp. 100,000 per kilo, ”he explained.
Currently the KUPS group has tried to develop bees that are different from forest honey, namely kelulut bee cultivation, since cultivation a year ago there have been five groups formed. "Each group can harvest about 25 kilograms of honey per month," he said. Now residents continue to learn to engineer hives so that the bee colonies (Trigona Thoracica) can be moved to new hives in the form of wooden box boxes.
Although the yields of kelulut honey have not improved the economy of the residents much, residents continue to seek ways to make the cultivation of kelulut honey be effective and maximized. They keep trying to remember the promising potential and the large enough market.
"The village community should be grateful for the large potential of the village. SAMPAN only supports and encourages the mangrove forest in Tanjung Harapan village to have added value and economic value for the local community who are also the guardians of the mangrove forest, "he said.
The Head of Tanjung Harapan Village, Juheran, is grateful that they have the right to manage the Village Forest. Since the issuance of the MenLHK Decree No. 518 of 2017 Village Forest Management Rights (HPHD), residents manage 17,445 hectares of land. Of that total, 14,315 hectares are in Protected Forest Areas, while 395 hectares are in Limited Production Forests and 2,735 hectares in Convertible Production Forest Areas.
According to Juheran, the right to manage village forests can be the initial capital for residents to improve the economy. Because before they got the right to manage village forests, residents often received non-physical threats from having capital who wanted to use the village for oil palm plantations.
“The community doesn't want oil palm plantations to enter the village. We are afraid that it will damage the environment in the forest area which will affect the quality of fresh water in the village, ”he explained while remembering the 2014 incident.
At that time, around 700 residents from six villages staged an action and destroyed oil palm trees planted in protected forests by the Harapan Makmur Cooperative. The action was carried out because the cooperative changed the plants from banana plantations to oil palm plants.
After the destruction, there were rumors in the village that if they took part in the action and destroyed the oil palm plantations, the police would pick them up.
"It turns out that the issue is true and led to the emergence of summons from the West Kalimantan Regional Police to 12 people. Nine of them are residents of Tanjung Harapan Village, "he said. They were accused of having committed a criminal act of destroying 10 hectares of oil palm land belonging to the Harapan Makmur Cooperative.
According to Juheran, the cooperative planted oil palm in an area designated as protected forest in Karya Indah Hamlet, Tanjung Harapan Village with a total land area of 18,000 hectares. The conflict then continued until there was a peace agreement on April 27 2016 from both parties witnessed by the West Kalimantan Police Investigators.
After leaving this conflict, the village apparatus together with the residents then decided to submit a request to the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK) for the designation of village forests. Although it is not easy, the results of village forest management are now beginning to be felt by residents. Together with SAMPAN activists, Juheran continues to try to provide understanding to residents about economic programs through village forest management.
Juheran also explained that they had difficulty managing the village forest because of the lack of facilities. Moreover, village forest areas that must be maintained and managed include water and land areas that require a lot of resource support.
"Capital is also still a classic problem for residents who are members of the LPHD in order to develop programs that are starting to run," he added. (*)
This article was published on Pontianak Post and re-edited to be loaded on Jaring.id