THE DROUGHT

Drought 01

“Only farmers that the world needs the most.”

Li Zhao Xing, Former Foreign Minister of People’s Republic of China

40 million Indonesians work in agricultural sector. If one must support 3 family members, then there are roughly 160 million people who depend their livelihoods on this pillar industry. That is more than 50% of the country’s population. Farming is one of Indonesia’s major production outlets, contributing to its sizable economy. This is a conventional wisdom held for centuries. However it entailed also the basic problem that loomed large over the majority small income peasants, encompassing 40% of the total agriculture workforce. They are at the bottom place of the piramidal structure,defenseless from situational or policy changes, not to mention the natural phenomenon like what these pictures show. Enormous farmland in the remote Tanah Merah village of West Java could not survive eight rainless months. The drought slowly devastated the crops this village of less than 100 households had regularly planned. In spite of the fact that the year 2013 marked the domestic food stock surplus, mainly rice, cultivation outcome relies heavily on climactic trends. There is little policy-making that lays an importance on sustainability through innovations and incentives. As millions of peasants were left in this sort of old laissez faire mechanism, the government’s way of coping with the inconsistent rice output has always been the easiest: imports. The numbers will remain steady throughout 2014, despite the fact that the the goernments met the target of 6.2% output increase within the past two years. Some pointed out the comparably high rice consumption among other rice producer countries. Some blame the food safety net program (raskin)in which the governments carried the heavy burden providing three to four tons of rice for Indonesia’s increasing impoverished population. For peasants facing the drought as what has happened in Tanah Merah village, the odds are hopelessly anticipating the rainfalls or food aid.

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