The research of my internship project brought me to the tip of Sumatera Island, Indonesia. Aceh, a province in the most northern part of the island, is the site where I am at this moment doing the data collection. I need to say that when one mentions the beauty of the land lies in the hospitality of its people, for that Aceh is indeed a very beautiful, a warm, and a supremely welcoming place to me. Not to mention that the truce between Indonesian army and Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka) was part of its history, which was ended once the Tsunami event occurred on 2004, for the last thirteen years Aceh has been turning into a very conducive place.
Shrimp industry as one of promising livelihood for coastal people in Aceh was devastated when Tsunami hit some parts of the region. To re-establish the shrimp farming industry, from the year 2007 to 2010 FAO in collaboration with ACIAR, ADB, IFC, NACA, and WWF were working together to support Marine and Fisheries Department (Dinas Kelautan dan Perikanan) promoting sustainable development of Aceh’s aquaculture sector. The support was done through the dissemination and training of Better Management Practices (BMPs) of shrimp farming to farmers in the affected tsunami areas of Aceh Besar, Pidie Jaya, Aceh Utara, and Lhokseumawe. However, until today there has not been any evaluation on that program to see how it benefitted the development of shrimp farming activities in Aceh. Regarding to that, the project I am working on is aiming to obtain the information on the benefit of BMP training through the economic valuation of BMP practices today and assessing how it improves farmer’s production. Apart of it, the information on key species and socioeconomic variables are also identified to define if there is any shifting on the cultured species and what causes lie there.
So for last four weeks in the field, I have been talking to 48 farmers, and very much excited to talk to more of them. And of insightful findings I found, the new knowledge I learned from one to other farmers throughout the interview sessions, those what makes me so enthusiastic to start writing. Sharing the stories to the world of every blessing, challenge, the ups, and downs, also success stories of smallholder shrimp farmer here, with the hope of this writing will provide beneficial information to those who have similar interest or simply to inspire those who are struggling on the same field. To me personally, this writing will always be a gentle reminder that aquaculture sector in Indonesia, particularly for smallholder farmer as the largest producer yet they are so susceptible, still needs a lot of improvement toward a more sustainable farming system for the most optimum productivity.
To end this introduction section, here I throw some questions I will discuss part by part on my next writing; How does shrimp farming in Aceh look nowadays? What challenges are the farmers facing? Is there any shifting on species cultured and what causes it?
As those questions closed this starting point writing; all that’s to say, ‘till the next part!