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Travel Notes from Belanti Village, Ogan Komering Ilir, South Sumatra

The making of a video or documentary often involves a series of scenes to support the delivery of the narrative. The making of the Indonesian Peat Prize video is no exception. One of the scenes is when Nirarta Samadhi, Director of WRI Indonesia, spoke with Lebak rice fields farmers in Belanti Village, Sirah Pulau Padang (SP Padang) sub-district, Ogan Komering Ilir district, South Sumatra.

According to the head of the SP Padang farmer group, 2,000 hectares of rice fields in this sub-district have been permanently flooded for the past 8 years. Harvest failure has been observed since the construction of peat drainage channels for oil palm plantations. Peatlands initially functioned as a water reservoir that served to maintain the water system in the area, including in the Lebak rice paddies, but since the peatlands were drained, the water now flooded the surrounding area.

During the video making, Nirarta Samadhi asked some questions to Pak Romli, a villager who has been farming in the rice fields for 40 years. Pak Romli's answer was moving. He said that farmers and oil palm companies should both benefit from their own land without hurting each other. Pak Romli added that demonstration to voice the situation affecting the farmers is not a good and wise move. Only disputes and suffering will result from protests.

Pak Romli has justified the view that no one wants to live with problem. Conflict is not something that is sought and expected to happen. May the hope of Pak Romli be a note and reminder for us all to continue promoting human prosperity while protecting the environment.


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