By: Maryanus Abani
One of the areas in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) Province that still relies on the agricultural sector for its economy is the North Central Timor (TTU) Regency.
In general, the agricultural sector consists of 6 sub-sectors, namely: food crops (rice and secondary crops), horticulture, plantations, livestock, fisheries and forestry.
All of these sub-sectors are important components in maintaining local and national food stability.
Then what about the condition of the development of the agricultural sector in TTU?
Agriculture TTU Strategic Sector
The economy of the people of North Central Timor is supported by the agricultural sector.
The contribution of the agricultural sector to the Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) in 2020 reached 39.82 percent.
Followed by the government administration, defense and social security sectors with a contribution of 17.18 percent (Source: BPS Kabupaten TTU).
In addition to having a major contribution to the formation of GRDP, the agricultural sector also plays an important role in the absorption of labor.
The agricultural sector has a very strategic role in the structure of the regional economy.
Therefore, local governments consistently strive to improve the performance of the primary sector through various policies and programs.
In recent years, the agricultural sector, especially food crops, has become one of the main programs of local governments in accelerating economic growth.
Food crops are all types of plants that produce carbohydrates and proteins.
Food crop entrepreneurs aim to realize the condition of fulfilling food needs with adequate nutrition for residents who live healthy and productive lives from day to day.
If the availability of food is not sufficient for the necessities of life, it will certainly be a problem. Therefore, sufficient food for the needs of the population must be available.
The types of food crops that are strategic and cultivated in TTU are generally lowland rice, upland rice, corn, cassava, sweet potato, peanut and green beans.
The production and productivity of each type of food crop is certainly different depending on the method of maintenance, harvested area, land fertility, climate and rainfall.
Poverty Level Contributors
North Central Timor Regency is one of the regencies in East Nusa Tenggara Province which has superior characteristics in the agricultural sector, especially the types of wet land and dry land agriculture.
Although the contribution of the agricultural sector is the leading sector, the trend of its contribution is decreasing from year to year.
The low productivity and income of farmers is one of the causes of poverty in this area.
TTU BPS data states that the number of poor people in TTU Regency in 2020 is 22.28 percent or 56.98 thousand people. The poverty line is 386,990 per capita per month.
The problem of poverty, especially in the agricultural sector, occurs due to several factors. Starting from the low level of education of farmers, production that still depends on the season (nature), to the difficulty of market access.
In addition, the lack of government support through agricultural extensions, the problem of lack of water availability, traditional farming methods, pest attacks, seeds planted are not superior types, to the problem of fertilizers.
All these problems are a strange question for farmers in TTU.
Every year many farmers “scream” because their production does not match expectations.
Agricultural production is not optimal because TTU farmers face so many obstacles and limitations.
For this reason, there needs to be “extra” efforts from the government regarding farmers’ problems in the field.
First, the government needs to provide counseling for farmers in order to open insight or knowledge of farmers about how to do good and right farming.
Second, farmers must be able to apply modern agricultural technology in order to increase the production of food crops while maintaining environmental friendliness.
Third, overcome the problem of water availability due to low rainfall.
One way is to build reservoirs/dams/dams in strategic agricultural locations.
An effort that is no less important is the availability of fertilizers. Maximize and encourage farmers to use environmentally friendly organic fertilizers by utilizing existing natural products.
This makes farmers less dependent on the availability of factory fertilizers which are often scarce and expensive in the market.
The Impact of Covid -19 on the Agriculture Sector
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all aspects of human life.
TTU farmers were also affected and screamed because of the low demand and falling prices due to the low purchasing power of the people.
The pandemic has also made the nomads return to their villages because they have lost their livelihoods in overseas lands.
This of course makes an increase in food consumption for farmers. This condition is increasingly burdensome for farmers in TTU.
All the obstacles found by the farmers in TTU must immediately find the best solution by the stakeholders.
Social assistance for the short term and entrepreneurship for the long term are urgently needed by farmers.
All efforts must continue to be executed properly so that the agricultural potential of food crops in North Central Timor Regency can be optimized for the welfare of farmers. In the end, farmers can enjoy the fruits of their hard work.
Abundant production, increased income. Farmers who enjoy the results of agricultural production in the motherland more specifically Biinmaffo earth.
The author is a student of Timor University/PKL at BPS Kupang City