Gemawan Assisted Community in Semangak Village Harvested Black Rice

Group of Umak Care for Water (Kumpai) in Semangak Village, Sambas Regency, conducted its first black rice harvest. According to Mrs. Mardiyah, the Coordinator of black rice demonstration plot, the rice cultivation was carried out organically, without using pesticides and chemical fertilizers. “We did not use any (chemical) fertilizers and poisons in planting the black rice. When we cleared the land, the grass was trampled and gradually turned into organic fertilizer.” said Mrs. Mardiyah.

“There weren’t many pests either. It is because during the high tide, the rice plants are usually submerged. Thus, pests cannot disrupt the growth of the rice.” she explained again. The location of the demonstration plot which is on the banks of the Sambas Besar River gives its own advantage for this group; the grass that died, slowly rotted and became organic fertilizer for rice plants.

This black rice is a type of local rice with moderately long harvest age, which is 5 months. Although it is quite long, the group preferred to cultivate local rice because it can survive better than superior rice.

“Most of the people in Semangak Village used to plant rice. However, on account of pest attacks 4 years ago, they experienced crop failure. Afterwards, they were deterred from planting rice again. Today, we encourage the group to cultivate black rice because its economic value is higher and it is better for health. They will also expand the demonstration plot of group’s black rice and will also start planting rice to meet their daily needs.” said Wanti, a group assistant from Gemawan Institute.

Besides organic fertilizers, the black rice processing also used traditional tools, namely grinder, to produce black rice. The grinder was used to keep the quality of the rice so that it will still be black. “If it is ground with a machine, the hulls will disappear, so the color of the rice will not be black. That’s why we used a tool for curing,” explained Ibu Patila, one of the the group members.

Not only did Kumpai make the black rice demonstration plots, but also checked the river water regularly to figure out the development of air quality as a result of extractive industrial activities on the upriver side. Several times, many fish died suddenly in the river and in certain seasons people got itchy after taking a bath with the river water.

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