How can farmers and local communities continue to grow crops on fully rewetted peatlands without loss of livelihoods?
The scheduled rewetting of large areas of peatland demands that sustainable and scalable alternative livelihood options and business models are associated with the restoration of the degraded peat. Our livelihoods research is evaluating the potential of various agricultural, agroforestry and forestry production systems for farmers living on rewetted peatlands. Sustainable livelihood options in rewetted peatlands depend upon the development of peat-friendly agroforestry, fisheries and peat-friendly crops and appropriate business models that allow for smallholder engagement in new value chains for new commodities. These alternative models need to utilise peatland species that can survive in fully rewetted peatlands and can reliably feed into a value chain. For example, the production of jelutung for latex, illipe for nut and butter, and sago which is cultivated in various parts of Indonesia each have considerable economic potential. Thus, alternative agricultural crop options each require an assessment of their potential market chains and market values. Having good value chain analyses of a variety of peat-friendly commodities will also stimulate other actors to think about establishing alternative product processing industries.