How can we improve agricultural productivity while increasing biodiversity? The Dutch company in herbs and spices Verstegen starts a test plot for white pepper agroforestry in Indonesia to get the answer. reNature Foundation designs and develops the plot.
Verstegen's focus is to improve the herbal and spice supply chain in which they operate. With the aim to further improve the quality of the herbs and spices and to obtain an even more consistent flow of good quality. Verstegen is realizing this by investing in a food forest. The form of sustainable agroforestry like the food forest in Indonesia is officially called regenerative agroforestry. This means that in addition to a more sustainable food production, the food forest also aims to revitalize the depleted soil. This method not only provides more variation in the landscape, but increases the soil quality and diversity in flora and fauna. On top of this the farmer will have more stability and spreads business risks.
Agroforestry simulates the natural situation in which mixed crops are planted in several layers. The bottom layer consists of vegetables and herbs such as ginger and turmeric. The shrubs are planted above them with spices such as white pepper but also berries and fruits. The upper layer consists of trees with fruit and nuts, among others. By mimicking nature agriculture provides more biodiversity, higher returns for farmers, healthier plants, better harvest quality, and better soil conditions.
In addition, the diversity of the crop system provides the farmer more income sources and therefore more financial security on the same piece of land.
For the development of the white pepper food forest, Verstegen has partnered with reNature, a Dutch foundation that supports farmers internationally in switching to regenerative agroforestry.
reNature’s goal is make agroforestry mainstream and through this improve global food security. The foundation works together with international and local agroforestry experts to design and develop agroforestry systems, and brings together a team of volunteers to prepare the land and plant the system.
For the Verstegen white pepper test plot, reNature asked Valter Ziantoni and Paula Costa (Preta Terra) to design the agroforestry system. Besides the cash crop white pepper (Pipper nigrum), The system contains a diversity of trees to provide shadow and nutrients like Mahogany, King of fruit, Mango, Avocado, Jackfruit, Rambutans, Rain tree, and Gliricidia to carry the pepper vine. Further more to create more financial independency, the system also provides Banana, Turmeric, Ginger, Pinapple, Pumpkin and Casava.
reNature works together with the farmers to apply the techniques themselves. For this, local agroforestry expert will give workshops to the farmers, the local community and the reNature volunteers.
Verstegen stands for sustainable entrepreneurship and this small-scale project in Bankga is an example of this. Verstegen wants all internal processes in 2025 to be CO2 neutral and has an active waste management policy.
By regenerating farmland, restoring nature and sustaining food production, Verstegen and reNature contribute to the better world, ready for the next generation.
The mission of Verstegen Spices and Sauces is to have everyone enjoy from responsible, healthy, but above all yummy food, wherever in the world, with respect for people and nature. Verstegen aims to make the entire food production chain sustainable from farm to fork by 2025.
Preta Terra develops replicable designs of regenerative agroforestry systems, combining scientific data, empirical information and traditional knowledge with technological innovations, building a new productive paradigm that is sustainable, resilient and long-lasting.