E-DISCUSSION: How can youth promote the importance of SE Asia’s forest foods?

Mango Fruit (Mangifera indica L.). Photo by Afzal Hossain

Mango Fruit (Mangifera indica L.). Photo by Afzal Hossain

By Jan Joseph Dida, moderator of the food security discussion at the youth session. Share your thoughts by commenting at the end of this blogpost!

Feeding a burgeoning population without further damage to tropical forests is a contemporary global issue. Agricultural expansion is the primary course of decline in tropical forests and with a forecasted 9 billion people by 2050, many experts say that even more food needs to be produced in order to achieve global food security. If business as usual is allowed to continue, tropical forests face a grim future.

The benefits of forests in terms of dietary diversity and food security have been shown in various studies. In the eastern forests of Irian Jaya, the game and bush meat are regarded as direct sources of animal protein. In freshwater forests in the Philippines, the saps of Nipa palms and coconuts are sources of food and fuel as well.

Despite the obvious importance of forests and forest products to people living in and around them, these benefits are less known to the youth. A growing concern of many governments in both developed and developing societies is that agriculture, forestry and similar issues are not often issues of interest for young people.

A common example is the “our food comes from the supermarket shelves” mentality many young people have these days.

This is worrying. The interconnectedness between climate change, deforestation, agricultural sustainability and food security objectives means many young people today are likely to be unaware of the importance of forests and trees for direct and indirect contribution to food production.

Using trees outside forest concept might offer a catalyst for raising awareness about forests and trees importance for food security. In urban and peri-urban areas where the majority of young people live, fruit trees can provide an important source of food and help raise awareness of the links between trees, forests, and food security.

In Seattle, U.S.A. for example, trees such as walnuts and chestnuts are being planted in the urban areas for the public to freely harvest. Community projects like Conservation Farming Villages, a village-based agroforestry for biodiversity initiative, has been adapted in my home country, the Philippines, to support and improve local food supply and economy. Such landscape approaches are contributing to addressing the real issues of food access and poverty in local communities.

More is required from the youth on all fronts. It is now time to get organized and mobilized in shaping the future scenario we want.

I am looking forward to hearing your thoughts on how active youth involvement can forward sustainable food provisioning and biodiversity conservation in Southeast Asia:

  1. In your home city, region, or country, can you think of any examples of where urban or agricultural trees, or forests, provide a source of food for local people?
  2. How can we promote the importance of trees and tree-based agricultural systems for food provisioning?
  3. In what ways can the youth get more involved in research, policy and practice of sustainable landscape management for food?


15 Responses to "E-DISCUSSION: How can youth promote the importance of SE Asia’s forest foods?"

  1. Via Apriyani Posted on May 2, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    1. Basically each region in Indonesia has local food and usually local people harnessing it for daily consume. For example, people in East Java consume Porang tuber (Amorphophallus oncophyllus) its originated and can thriving in East Java. Initially, Amorphophallus oncophyllus is growth by local people to support forest conservation programmme. Those tuber plant is not known by people widely. Another example, Papua Province has so many local food such as creeping tuber, gembili (purplish edible tuber), jawawut (java millet) and many more. Since self-sufficient rice programme recognized as one of Indonesia’s achievement in agriculture, the government has released policy to grow paddy in order to fulfill domestic demand and export to another country. That policy has changed Indonesian’s mindset to only eat rice as staple food and it gives negative effect because local people left their local food and become dependence to eat rice.

    2. We as youth in SE Asia have important role to promote the importance of trees and tree-based agricultural systems for food provisioning. There are any ways to promote the importance of tree-based agricultural systems. Youth in SE Asia could make community development programme and do campaign acitivity to persuade people. We can make real action by get involved in local community. Another good way, we can use the advance of cyber space to make big online action. This action aims to persuade youth in social media.

    3. the youth can get more involved in research, policy and practice of sustainable landscape management for food by actively join the research programme and another event related to that. Youth should have high awareness regarding to the policy and global issue.

  2. Fibrianis P, Anhar Posted on May 2, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    My homeland is a town
    in East Java. It has many local fruits that become our pride. Most of them have
    typical taste. The fruits such as mangosteen, snake fruit, duku, durian, and jackfruit.
    These planted by rural communities in my town in their field or yard. In
    Indonesia, we have particular behave in several communities. For example in East
    Java, every house has at least one mango tree and in Yogyakarta, you will find many house that
    has rambutan tree in its yard. It is like a habit in our communities. The communities
    plant these kind of tree to fulfill their own need of fruits. But if it has excess
    harvest, they will sell it to the market or share it to their neighbors and
    relatives. For rural communities, provide their own food is an important issue
    if it comes from their yard, their field, their paddy field, or forest. The
    rural communities has a big dependency to their food sources.

    We can promote the importance
    of planting tree by telling what benefits we will if we do this. First, we can meet
    the needs of our own. It will be cheaper and safer than we buy food or fruits
    from market or supermarket that we have no idea where it came from and how it
    produced. Second, if we plant it a fairly large scale, we can sell the harvest
    and become an addition source of economic for our family. We could get money from this. Third, we make
    our environment be greener. It is completely good. By planting trees we help
    the environment by providing water catchment area, adding oxygen supply, and
    carbon sequestration.

    Youth can be participated
    in this activity by understand about their wealth of local community well. By
    having good understanding about their local wealth, it will help youth to
    determine what action that they can do based on their interest, whether in
    research, policy, or practiced. They can do real act by helping rural
    communities promote their local products, sharing knowledge that we got at
    school or college to help them do a better tree-based agricultural or
    plantation, advocate to local government to support them, and many other ways.
    We have to noted to our self, to the community, and the government that
    sustainable landscape management for food is important to support our life. It
    is much better that we can produce our own food than we buy it for another
    place. When we are connected with our own food, we will appreciate the process
    to get it, to produce it. Furthermore, we will have a better awareness to
    protect our food sources, one of them is forest.

  3. My Hoang Hao Tra Posted on April 29, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    As I know from my fieldtrip to mountainous areas in my country, I have to say that they are depends on NTFPs much more than peole imagine about that. Mountainous people go to forest everyday to collect food, herb and firewoods for their living. They uses herb for their drink and their traditional medicine, they uses vegetables for their food.
    Local people know the value of trees and tree-based agricultural systems, so I think the good way to improve these systems is the link between scientific knowledge and traditonal knowledge. Scientist can help local people conserve thier source of livelihood and protect forest also.
    Youth should practice more into local practice, live with them, observe their traditional practice. by that way, youth can know what is the gap between theory and practice in order to use theory more practicaly.

  4. Ade Indah Muktamarianti Posted on April 29, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    i study in Bogor,pretty big city in
    Indonesia,but i came from Subang,it’s suburban,i live in a village
    called Dawuan. most of the house in my village has a yard, or little
    garden. we plant many kind of fruits and herbals to provide our needs.
    some of the yards are purposed to be planted by fruits and we sell it.
    but there are also yards which is purposed to be planted by plants for
    daily needs. we mostly plant Rambutan,fruit endemic to Indonesia. also
    starfruit,and jackfruit. besides the fruits,we also plant herbs, chilli, onions, ginger and many others.

    it’s not only the fruit we take,we also use the branch on the
    ground as a firewood. we use banana’s leaf for food packaging,we eat
    cassava also its leaves.
    in my university, Bogor Agricultural
    University, we have a tourism program called Agroedutourism. it aims to
    give an education about the importance of environment and agricultural
    in providing human needs through tourism activity,and i think it’s
    effective enough to campaign the importance of trees and tree-based
    agricultural system. the targets of the program can be anyone but we can
    focus it on teenagers in order to build a “green habit” and “green
    mindset” since young.

    my major is Forest Resource Conservation and Ecotourism, one of
    the subject is Conservation Education, we learn how to deliver the
    thoughts of conservation and how to build people’s mindset of
    conservation,to learn together with the learners how to apply the
    conservation aspects in daily life. what i’m trying to say here is,
    Conservation Education can be an effective way to grow teen’s interest
    on tree-based agricultural system.

    another way, we can use internet. nowadays,most of the
    internet users are teenagers, that’s an actual potency to promote
    tree-based agricultural system, we can make videos relate with the
    important role of trees,forest and landscape management and share it to
    the internet,make a forum whether in cyber world or in local or in

    to involved in research of sustainable management forest for
    food,youth should keep seeking the knowledge about the landscape
    management in order to criticize the environment and landscape policies.
    make a forum regularly to evaluate the landscape and agricultural
    management system and policy,sounding our thought to the world,campaign
    it,and make a petition to support our ideas. do the real act, make some
    exhibition,for example.

  5. Rifqi Muttaqin Posted on April 28, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    Q1. Based on my hometown which is an urban area, i think that most of the Indonesian aren’t making trees,in this case are trees that produced consumable fruit, as their main source of food. We just consumed the fruit as complementary food, not in a daily dose. So i can only tell you the fruits that sometimes are consumed by us are Mangoes, Rambutans, Oranges, and other tropical fruits.

    Q2. I’m thinking of the method we could use is arranging agenda like counseling for society and food bazaar, not just common food but food that was produced by forest or the raw material that was coming from it. So that we could introduce the society that forest isn’t just about timber.

    Q3. I think the government should create a community/clique for youth, and focusing its agenda on the problems that surrounding forestry directly, what i mean directly is the community/clique is handling the problems by straightly go to the area and examine and solving the problem itself on the field.

  6. Pratiwi Sulistiyanti Posted on April 28, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    I could contribute some ideas in order to train Youth acts toward their role to contribute and promote land for food and biodiversity, are:
    (Start from ourselves):
    -Reduce the consumption of fast food caused a lot of fast food consume a lot of palm oil and contain cholesterol hence we need to determine and conserve traditional food to provide the sustainable of its source (i.e: from plant, animals, or spices). As we know the development of palm oil industry mostly have problems related to forest conversion land issues. Trust me, the traditional food was healthy!
    -In order to develop food security, youth could start it by plant turmeric or gingger in our home yard to optimalized our land. Because those plants could be used as medicinal plant and spices.
    -We could not generalized our staple food in our country with rice (i.e: Since the beginning of Indonesia civilization, the indonesian already differ their staple food such as to gain carbohydrate they obtain it from cassave to made tiwul, sago palm eaten with east Indonesian people, etc)

    (Partnership with another stakeholders)
    -Plant trees have a lot of advantages, especially plant trees in margin land which had extreme conditions of sloping land or in edges of river to decrease the effect of erosion. In order to restore river ecosystem we could plant Bamboo. this plant is one of multifunctional plantation. For example when i was child i always found Bamboo aside the river, somehow my grandma and local people suround my village use that bamboo shoot as source of vegetables and it was become a delicious food indeed. Now, this local habbit already neglected.
    -To develop our knowledge about “Forestry traditional and healthy food”
    we could make a food fair or exhibition annually in order to promote food crop from
    agriculture and forest to introduce traditional food to urban people. beside to maintain the harvest from forest and agriculture.
    -The recent research already investigated to found bioenergy, and its already succeed to made ethanol or methanol from food crop waste (i.e: sugar cane) or the waste of pulp & paper industries. Youth within their skill and knowledge could collaborate and joined together with institution and professional partner in research.
    -To optimalized land we could practicing build agroforestry system in small scale is quite difficult if private didnt had a budget , so we need to ask subsidize budget from government to help them.
    Hopefully through The Forest Asia Summit we could deliver the message of our understanding to optimalized land to develop food security and keep the biodiversity as the source of food and aesthetic.

  7. Ridayat Posted on April 28, 2014 at 8:38 am

    In my hometown food sources can be obtained from the agroforestry system , the community tree planting rubber ( havea braziliensis ) and in the hallways of the crop planted various kinds of sources of food , such as rice , corn , cassava etc , . Many peoples in my region have a field in a kind of hill, or valley of the mountain. It help the farmers find some kind of food from the forest. To promote the importance of trees and agricultural , it is often held expo or exhibit on forestry and agriculture , even my faculty National Agroforestry held a seminar to support this state, its one of the more saomething that can we do. youth involvement so far is somewhat lacking , but is actually much chance that we can get if we are a little trying . our opportunity in this case there is the big forums like this Summit Asian Forest , but in terms of research professors usually always involves the students to participate in their research , even me several times to participate in counseling with the faculty to disadvantaged areas , to promote the importance of field forestry and agriculture are balanced.

  8. Rinda Fadila Posted on April 28, 2014 at 7:20 am

    Forests are a source of basic needs for forest communities, for example the Dayak community Kayan Mentarang National Park, people use the forest as a source of good food from animals and plants, lots of animals , insects and fish around the forest used as a source of protein, many plants used as a source carbohydrates which becomes very important for the Dayak as a backup food when harvests failed in the dry season and rice prices are high, vegetables and fruits are a source of vitamins used in society and the forest is a source of spices used for cooking. To promote tree for food we should realize that many residents in the surrounding forests are dependent on the forests to meet they need, here the role of government becomes important how to keep forests with various rules so that the forest can still enjoy the benefits . Here the task of the young generation becomes important how we develop knowledge gained by actual conditions through research , policy and practice landscape sustanable then to need cooperation of various parties.

  9. Yesi Tri Novian Posted on April 27, 2014 at 11:43 pm

    Q1. In fact, have a home page with lots of trees planted is a good step to contribute to nature. on my home page, for example, there has been a long time since there are mango trees, jackfruit, and banana fruit can be used for consumption. In this time, things like that are rarely found in urban areas at the center of modern development associated with land conversion. This is understandable because there are some things to consider when planting fruit trees in the home, such as the presence of animals that appear at the rotten fruit, pungent odors for neighbors who may be allergic to the smell, and much more. Another thing that can be used to provide a source of food for the community is agroforestry systems. This system has been widely used in various areas.

    Q2. The majority of Indonesian citizens feel not eating when they do not eat rice. carbohydrates such as rice is absolute when compared to eating carbohydrates in other forms. it affects the Indonesian people’s interest in eating fruits directly. most of them pick fruit in containers that are processed as a flavor in drinks or food. government should work with NGOs to increase public interest in the importance of trees. I agree with Ratih that socializing is not enough, there have to be a written rule under the law
    and a real implementation such as giving free seeds of trees to society
    especially in urban areas whereas the coverage of arable land is
    getting decreased.

    Q3. The IPB IFSA-LC routine every week IGTV implemented, the activities carried down the village in order to determine directly the conditions in the various regions of both the environment and the potential of its people.Tthis can continue to be done by counseling or discussion with local residents about agroforestry has many benefits especially for those plants that can be consumed dominance. So, all parties to fulfill their role as possible in the context of food security for a better life.

  10. Nurjaya Sachwid Posted on April 27, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    Not much different from Ratih and Iqbal statements, in my place urban forest communities use products like fruits to be consumed or leaves as animal feed. Urban forest not only planted by trees for aesthetic function, absorb gas pollutant or water management, but also as provide food for communities. In the Urban forest region, manager and communities planted rambutan, durian, sapodilla, mangosteen, bisbul (velvet apple), guava, mango, jackfruit, breadfruit, etc, which can be used free by urban forest communities.

    Trees are important for our life. We got fruits, seeds, flowers, or leaves which can be supply food everyday. This non-timber product can be use for long term, if we can maintaining the viability of these trees. If we only use timber product, it only use at once and to get it back again we need long time.

    The main problem in Indonesia is much of human population that is not followed by an increase of food production. The problem sometimes cause open forest to be converted into agriculture land. Youth can participate and contribute to make policy and research to increase food production without open forest that can make biodiversity in the forest damage. Youth can be involved in agricultural intensive to create superior agriculture species that can produce high and durable products. Furthermore, agroforest system is one of alternative to increase food without open forest area. Forest communities should be involved to keep forest sustain as stakeholders.

  11. Ratih Nawangwulan Posted on April 25, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Q1. In my home city, it appears that since our land is very fertile we could almost plant anything. Most in the urban areas still plant fruit trees such as rambutan, mango, jackfruit, and citrus. But those trees could not always present as primary foods since in Indonesia, the consuming level of fruits is still low compared with other countries. This is a homework for us to make urban areas planted with edible trees so that we can minimize the impact of food scarcity in the future. Moreover, we can help to make greener environment in our own home.

    Q2. Government and NGO should be fully engaged to this thing. They have to create the mutual partnership between government, NGO, and citizen. Thus, they can build the trust of public to help fixing the system for food provisioning. Socializing is not enough, there have to be a written rule under the law and a real implementation such as giving free seeds of trees to society especially in urban areas whereas the coverage of arable land is getting decreased.

    Q3. Youth these days are very much interested about the investment of the future. Most of the youth that learning in institution absorb as much information they could get to answer the challenge in their environment. Not only involved in research, youth are actively involved in various youth organization with various field of interest such as in agriculture, policy, or community development. These kind of works need to be supported and respected especially by stakeholders. Involving youth in a project can give benefit to both parties since youth are full of ideas and capacity in changing the environment to positive change.

  12. M Iqbal Posted on April 24, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    In my country there are a lot of alternative provisioning of food that derived from a tree.
    A tree can produce a food, especially a fruit, or a spices,
    There are so much fresh fruit like rambutan (nephelium mutabile) a sweet juicy red or yellow fruit with one seed and hairy rind, durian (durio zibethinus) that can grow faster in my country, manga, and sawo duren (chrysophyllum cainito), and many more.
    For urban area, i imagine that sawo duren: that has beautyfull canopy, with shiney brown on the top of the foliage, and gold layer in below, and of course with the beatiful color of it’s flower, will make an arctistic view for landscape in the urban, while we benefit from the juicy fruit with high vitamin that we consume
    I think this tree has to be a trend of urban area to structuring the landscape. For artistic view, a great vitamin of fruit, fresh air from a micro climate, and reducing the carbon in the air.
    Also in spices food, for the example a cinnamon (stelechocarpus burahol) produce an oil of cinnamon, and the spices for the food.
    There are a lot of tree that able to produce a food, and must be study, for research in the food produce of many species tree in the world, so, we can maintain the forest as the ecosystem of trees as most valuable things to sustain.

  13. Sarah IFSA Posted on April 24, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    For Q1) Similarly to Peter, I come from a country where ‘food security’ isn’t the issue – but that disconnect (food is from the supermarket) definitely exists! However in reaction to this, there is increasing attention to, and utilisation of, urban fruit trees, by local governments as well as community groups.

    For example I live in an area where there are lots of fruits trees (figs, citrus, apricot, apple etc) growing in gardens and on nature strips, largely a relic of old greek/italian market gardens. I remember my local government was also talking about planting out fruit trees on streets. The problem is there needs to be a local community based commitment to manage/harvest, otherwise the fruit goes to waste and causes a mess for councils!

    Following into Q3) There are an increasing number of both formal and informal networks for ‘urban foraging’/harvesting, many of which are driven by young people and coordinated via social media. Through this, people can access, pick, and share local produce. Not only does this give us access to fresh seasonal organic fruit (which can be relatively expensive, for a young person’s budget!) but also creates a real sense of community – if formalised/expanded, these sorts of networks could also work with urban planners and foresters to advocate for urban food forestry.

  14. Peter Posted on April 24, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    On your question (1) Even though I live “in the West”, there are isolated examples where farms open up their lot with fruit trees, where people can go and pick their own. People then pay per kg or bucket of picked fruits. Often, these are organic farms, so people not only get fresh fruit, enjoy their own picking as a family outing, but they also get real good fruit (and not the ones with a shiny cover of pesticides…)…

    I do not know if those organic self-picking farms are organised in a group, but it might be an idea to engage with them: maybe every family coming over to pick fruit, could get a leaflet explaining the importance of trees and forests in the diet of “less food-secure” people.
    And something like that, might be something the youth could engage in..

  15. Anna Finke Posted on April 24, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    There’s been this really cool article by the Guarding of introducing jackfruit as a staple food. Considering it grows on trees and is pretty much drought-resistant, it seems like an amazing opportunity. Question is how you can free the fruit from its “poor people” reputation. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/23/jackfruit-miracle-crop-climate-change-food-security?CMP=twt_gu

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