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23,000 ha of Indonesia's paddy fields 'face harvest failure'

Publication Date : 11-09-2012


Agriculture Minister Suswono said the drought in various provinces in Indonesia had caused 23,000 hectares (ha) of 13 million ha of farmland to face harvest failure.

He said the affected farmland currently had reached 127,000 ha. “As much as 75 per cent of the area has already faced harvest failure,” said Suswono.

He added that the government had allocated 199 billion rupiah (US$20.78 million) to help farmers facing harvest failure. The amount of funds could be used to revive up to 70,000 ha of farmland facing harvest failure.

Suswono said the government would provide  2.6 million rupiah for cultivation and 1.1 million rupiah for fertiliser for a hectare of affected farmland.

The assistance funds will be immediately disbursed to farming communities when the agriculture offices at the regency and mayoralty levels have verified the area of affected farmland.

“After the affected farmland has been verified, we will send the data to the Agriculture Ministry which will immediately transfer the cash assistance to the affected farming communities. This is valid for all provinces in Indonesia,” said Suswono.

He expected farmers to grow side crops, such as soybean and mung beans during the drought.

According to him, the current drought is normal during seasonal change in Indonesia. “We hope by the end of September there will be rain, so the grand planting season can begin in October,” he said.

He added that eventually the government would build more than 1,000 small artificial lakes to overcome the drought.

“So, while it’s raining, water can be retained and reserved for the drought,” said Suswono.

In the Bantul regency, Yogyakarta, hundreds of hectares of red onion farms have experienced harvest failure, causing billions of rupiah in losses.

The harvest failure is blamed on the blorok fungus, which attacks onion leaves due to the long drought.

“The leaves have turned yellow and as a result, the plants cannot bear fruit. We are certain that at least 100 hectares of our onion farms will face harvest failure,” said Sunar, 47, leader of a farming community in Bulak Cetan, Sanden, Bantul.

Sunar, father of four, told The Jakarta Post that farmers had suffered losses up to billions of rupiah due to the harvest failure. “Normally, a hectare of crops can produce 20 tonnes. Imagine the loss we suffer if a kilogramme is sold at 5,000 rupiah,” he said.

The blorok fungus is triggered by high humidity due to the prolonged drought.

“The climate has totally changed. The previous year, before the rainy season, it had rained once or twice. This year, there was absolutely no rain, which caused the weather to become very humid,” he said.

Another farmer, Agus Tiyanto, said the fungus had spread rapidly. “My crops were still green three days ago, but in just two days, all of them had turned yellow due to the fungus,” he said.

Agus, who grows onions on a 5,000-metre plot, said he had suffered a loss of up to tens of millions of rupiah due to the harvest failure.

US$1 = 9,585 rupiah


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