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close this bookResource Management for Upland Areas in Southeast Asia - An Information Kit (IIRR, 1995, 207 p.)
close this folder2. Integrated upland systems management
View the documentGeneral systems overview
View the documentOverview of agroforestry systems in Southeast Asia
View the documentDesign and management considerations for agroforestry systems
View the documentIntegrating local tree species into family farms
View the documentAgroforestry systems in China
View the documentAgroforestry systems in Indonesia
View the documentAgroforestry systems in the Philippines
View the documentAgroforestry systems in Thailand
View the documentAgroforestry systems in Vietnam

Integrating local tree species into family farms

An experience from Sumba, Nusa Tenggara Timur, Indonesia

Swidden cultivators have traditionally relied upon both their gardens and the local forest to provide for their basic needs. Due to a variety of factors, many shifting cultivators are gradually turning to more sedentary forms of farming. Farmers making this transition often begin planting perennial cash crops in addition to their annual staple crops. However, these tree crops incorporated into their farming system cannot totally supplant the functions of the slowly disappearing natural forests.

In the province of Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT) in Indonesia, many of the transition farmers working with Yayasan Tananua, a local farmers' organization, have been gradually planting trees to create "forests,, on sections of their own farms. These "family forests... or hutan keluarga, are planted with exotic trees and a variety of local forest species that traditionally provided the farm families with food, timber, fuelwood, herbal medicines and other useful products. These hutan keluarga have evolved into highly varied systems in terms of species composition and planting distances resulting from individual preferences and selection of each household.

Family forest

Examples of local tree species integrated in family forests (NTT, Indonesia)


Scientific name

Use (parts used)



Ha Moi Hua



traditional medicine (bark)



Gnetum gnemon

vegetables (leaves), snacks

(processed seed), rope material(bark)



Toona sureni

timber/construction material(trunk)


Kayu Merah

Pterocarpus indicus

timber/construction material(trunk)



Casuarina junghuhniana

timber/construction material(trunk)

Kajiu Omang

Cemara Hutan

Podocarpus imbricatus

timber/construction material(trunk)


Kayu Manis

Cinnamomum zeylanicum

spice (bark), traditional medicine

Kayu Loba



cloth dye (bark)



Dyxoxylum caulostachyum

timber/construction material(trunk)



Morinda citrifolia

cloth dye (bark)



Melia azedrach

timber/construction material(trunk)



Nauclea orientalis

timber/construction material (trunk)



Decaspermium sp.

vegetable (leaves), food

ingredient (seed), timber/

construction material (trunk)




timber/construction material (trunk)



Anthocephalus cadambu

timber/construction material(trunk)

Mbaku Hau


Podocarpus amarus

timber/construction material(trunk)

Pau Omang

Mangga, kedipir

Mangifera indica, Mangifera gedebe

timber/construction material(trunk)

Tumbu Ndaba


Neonauclea exelsa

timber/construction material(trunk)

Wihi Kaloki


Calophyllum soulattri

timber/construction material(trunk)



Pterospermum diversifolium

cloth dye (bark)

Factors influencing adoption

When the hutan keluarga became popular in the island of Sumba during the late 1980s, it was expected that farmers would plant many of the local species from the natural forest on their own farms. This way, the original role of the forest in the traditional shifting farming system could be maintained. This, however, did not happen, most of the hutan keluarga that currently exist have only a few species endemic to the natural Sumbanese forest.

Reasons for not cultivating local species

Planting materials of preferred local species are difficult to find and collect. On the other hand, planting materials of exotic or naturalized species are easily accessible from the market, the government or nongovernment organizations in the area.

Some local species are hard to propagate.

Farmers are not convinced that forest species can grow outside the natural forest.

The perception that exotic species are "modern,, made some farmers prefer them over local species.

Some farmers perceive that local species are not as valuable as exotics.

Difficulties encountered by farmers planting local species

Collecting and transporting planting materials (saplings are most commonly used) from the forest to their farm is difficult and timeconsuming.

Saplings from the forest need special care (watering, shading, wind protection, etc.) compared to naturalized or exotic species commonly grown in the locality.

Local forest species have generally lower survival rates, despite the special care given to them.

Most of the preferred local species have long growing cycles, e.g., first grade construction wood normally takes 10-1 5 years before it can be harvested.

Most transition farmers do want to plant more species from the natural forest to their hutan keluarga. However, incorporating local species, even among the more experienced and enthusiastic farmers, is still a matter of trial and error. Thus, the practice has spread only to a limited area. If incorporating the local forest species into the hutan keluarga is to be encouraged, the more problematic issues of access to planting materials and proper care and management practices need to be addressed.