This year's drought has taken a toll on rice crops as hundreds of hectares of paddy fields in 13 districts in Cirebon regency, West Java, have been damaged.
Cirebon Agriculture, Plantation and Husbandry Agency head Ali Effendi said the total number of damaged rice fields had reached 600 hectares.
The worst-hit areas are the Kapetakan and Suranenggala districts with around 500 hectares of damaged paddy fields.
The situation, Ali continued, occurred as water supplies from the Bendung Rentang Dam had significantly declined in the past few months. The dam, which is located in Jatitujuh district, Majalengka regency, is the main source of irrigation for farmers in Cirebon regency.
'It is feared will be many more rice fields that will suffer damage if the water level in the dam continues to decline,' Ali said.
Yayat, a farmer in Kapetakan district, said he had to rent water pumps to irrigate his paddy fields. 'The rent is Rp 20,000 [US$1.7] per hour. I need to rent the pump for around six hours to get my whole field irrigated,' said Yayat.
Cirebon regency, which has a total area of 989.7 square kilometers, is known as a primary rice producer in West Java after Indramayu, Subang and Karawang regencies.