Food security in the Lesser Sundas

Tens of millions of people rely on Indonesia's coral reefs and coastal areas as a source of food and direct income.

The Lesser Sunda eco-region stretches from Bali to Timor Leste, linking the Indian and Pacific Oceans and covering an area of more than 45 million hectares.

The TNC-supported Cempi Bay Conservation Society represents 13 villages in the area. They support environmentally friendly and better management of fish resources as well as mangrove restoration in the bay.

Part of TNC’s program in Cempi Bay involves helping communities establish Territorial Use Rights for Fisheries (TURF’s) and assess fish stocks, fishing gear regulation and zoning systems in their areas.

Villagers regularly meet in small groups to discuss and exchange information to map fish stocks and the results are rolled up to the wider Cempi group.

Pak Umar, 83, has been fishing all his life and leads a cooperative of 10 boats. The members split their costs, sell their catch together, share the profits and pool funds to help each other repair equipment, nets and boats.

Fishers from Hu’u village are out at sea up to three times a week for a stretch of 1-2 days per trip. They leave at dawn as it takes around 5 hours to reach the fishing site. The fishers make around US$750-800 per month.

The villagers fish throughout the year, except January to February during the monsoon season. To supplement their incomes, many villagers also raise goats or cows and do some farming.

Villagers also harvest and dry seaweed. The seaweed is collected by a buyer who transports and sells it to processing plants where the end product is used in making household products such as soap.

The women of Hu’u village established their own women’s cooperative in 2007. To help meet their family's financial needs the women have started making and selling local snacks made from fish.

Around 20 women are members of the village cooperative. Their leader Ibu Emi, said that the cooperative is in the process of getting government certification to market and sell their snacks to supermarkets.