Performance of Soybean's Farmer Field School-Integrated Crop Management in Central Java and West Nusa Tenggara Provinces, Indonesia
Indonesia is challenged by a shortage of soybean production to meet local demand. The Ministry of Agriculture has developed a strategy to increase soybean production through an integrated crop management (ICM) program, which was implemented through a farmer field school (FFS) approach in 2008. This paper aims to evaluate the performance of FFS-ICM implementation in two of the main areas for soybean production—Grobogan Regency in Central Java Province and West Lombok Regency in West Nusa Tenggara Province. Primary data was collected through in-depth interviews of 120 farmers. The before and after performance of the FFS-ICM program was evaluated using paired sample t-tests. The study found that FFS-ICM has increased soybean productivity significantly both in Grobogan Regency (1,854 kg/ha) and West Lombok Regency (1,492 kg/ha). However, this was less than the optimal productivity, which can reach 2,490 kg/ha in Grobogan Regency and 1,680 kg/ ha in West Lombok Regency, therefore a soybean productivity gap remains. In order to improve the implementation of soybean FFS-ICM, four policy recommendations were suggested: improving the understanding of extension workers and participant farmers on the philosophy of FFS to dispel the perception that FFS-ICM is "an aid distribution" project; intensive assistance and monitoring by field extension workers during the FFS-ICM implementation; ensuring that inputs (especially seeds) are available on time by strengthening breeding institutions at the local level; and strengthening the research and dissemination of new high-yielding varieties that are suited to local agroecosystems and in accordance with market demand.