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 Drought Sets In Across Java, Threatening Livelihoods and Food Security

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BerichtOnderwerp: Drought Sets In Across Java, Threatening Livelihoods and Food Security   wo 5 aug 2015 - 1:37

The Jakarta Globe, Aug 03, 2015

Solo/Bogor/Jakarta. The Central Java government has earmarked funds in anticipation of a clean-water crisis during this year’s dry season, which is expected to be unusually long due to the El Nino weather phenomenon.

Officials have expressed concerns that such a severe drought throughout the province could threaten food security across Java, as the area’s rice paddies are one of the country’s main sources.

“We have decided to allocate Rp 20 billion [$1.4 million] to lessen drought and water deficiency in impacted villages by distributing clean water,” Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo said in Solo over the weekend

However, Ganjar said one remaining problem is that water sources used for irrigation continue to deplete and eventually crops will fail. The government, he said, was seeking solutions by providing ground water for farming.

“The most plausible way is installing deep wells in farm field areas. Otherwise the farmer will harvest nothing,” he said.

In February, President Joko Widodo visited Sukoharjo and urged farmers in Central Java to increase paddy crops by two million tons to reach almost 12 million tons this year. Joko targeted rice production to support his goal of achieving a national rice surplus by 2017 so that the government can end rice imports.

With around 1.8 million hectares of farm field, Central Java produced 10 million tons rice in 2013, which slightly dropped to 9.6 million tons in 2014. Despite the drought, Ganjar was still optimistic paddy production in Central Java would meet the target.

The Central Java Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD) has spotted around 500 villages in the province that are experiencing water crises, mainly in the south and northern parts of the province, including in Wonogiri, Sukoharjo, Klaten, Sragen, Boyolali, Purworejo, Kebumen, Cilacap, Purbalingga, Brebes, Tegal, Pemalang, Jepara, Demak, Rembang, Pati, Grobogan and Blora.

BPBD head Sarwa Pramana said that drought would be worse this year as the dry season was predicted to end in or even after November. The Indonesian dry season rarely lasts beyond October.

Five of the 39 dam lakes in the province have already dried up — three in Sragen and one each in Pati and Grobogan – while water levels in more than 15 other dam lakes continue to diminish.

In Klaten, the local government has announced a drought emergency response. The Klaten BPBD has allocated Rp 500 million ($37,000) as it anticipates low water levels in around 34 villages. The agency has already distributed 500,000 liters of clean water to residents.

Meanwhile, around 7,000 hectares of rain-irrigated paddy fields in north Boyolali have been left unplanted as no rain has fallen during the dry season. The area now consists of completely dry terrain with insufficient ground water for irrigation.

“The farmers wait for rain to plant paddy as there are no other water sources,” said Bambang Purwadi, a Boyolali agriculture official.

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