BY: Yunita T. Winarto, Kees Stigter, Esti Anantasari, Hestu Prahara and Kristyanto

Farmers are known as good observers of their own fields and habitats. Their ways of knowing and the body of their local knowledge is called ilmu titèn (the ways of carrying out careful and detailed observations, and the results that are memorable) by the Javanese farmers in Gunungkidul, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. They were recently questioning the indicators for decision making they traditionally referred to at the time they used to start planting according to their local cosmology (pranata mangsa). These indicators appeared no longer adequate in their present form. From their training in a Climate Field School (CFS), they knew that climate change was influencing their habitat.

Introduction: Farmers are known as good observers of their own fields and habitats. Their ways of knowing and the body of their local knowledge is called ilmu titèn (the ways of carrying out careful and detailed observations, and the results that are memorable) by the Javanese farmers in Gunungkidul, Yogyakarta, Indonesia. They were recently questioning the indicators for decision making they traditionally referred to at the time they used to start planting according to their local cosmology (pranata mangsa). These indicators appeared no longer adequate in their present form. From their training in a Climate Field School (CFS), they knew that climate change was influencing their habitat.

Agrometeorological Learning in Gunungkidul, Yogyakarta

A group of researchers (anthropology and other disciplines, of the Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta) doing their ethnographic fieldwork and a visiting agrometeorologist recommended these farmers to continue their detailed observations, for a better understanding of the changes in their habitat. Yet, no reliable measurements of rainfall, of which the basics were taught in the CFS, were carried out. We therefore ordered ten farmer rain gauges with engraved calibrated scales from the USA for farmers’ daily rainfall measurements and assisted the farmers in where and how to mount the rain gauge, how to meaure the rainfall, and what to observe in their fields related to these measurements. That was the beginning of a collaborative research between farmers and scholars coming from very different disciplinary backgrounds.

After deciding on 10 points-of-observation based on areal representation, variations in soil conditions, field elevations and cropping patterns, and after reaching consensus of when and how to observe what and by whom, the daily rainfall measurements and field observations began in early November 2008 and lasted for 8 months, till June 2009. Throughout that period, continuous intersubjective reflection and evaluation took place between the two parties, farmers and scholars. Going to the field many times throughout the planting season is common for farmers. However, going every morning to the field at a particular time and taking note of what they measure and observe were new habits to get used to. Being consistent in doing that needed additional efforts and discipline that initially was not always there. Neither were all of them happy to carry out the observations without any compensation for their time and gasoline (for using motorbikes).

Bringing notes and pens to the fields and taking notes while observing were also a new practice. We discovered that not all of them did their note taking immediately after measuring the rainfall and observing the fields. They relied on their memories as they were used to and did the writing at home. Filling in the data-sheets we prepared was another new task to master. For us, preparing the data-sheets so as to enable the farmers to write down their findings in a simple way was also a new challenge. Based on a continuous evaluation and critical comments by farmers themselves, we improved several times the sheet’s lay-out, spacing, and items to observe. For the anthroplogy students it was also the first experience of processing rainfall data into graphics and agroecosystem observations into stories and matrixes, so as to be ready for the agrometeorologist to interpret them.

via Agrometeorological

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