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Jakarta Post

A blessful dry season

Wed, November 13, 2019   /   03:50 pm
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    Dry reservoir: A motorcyclist and her passenger ride past a leaning, rusted post alongside the old road from Baturetno to Eromoko in Wonogiri, Central Java. The area becomes flooded up to the full height of the post when the Gajah Mungkur reservoir is full. JP/Magnus Hendratmo

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    Resurfacing graves: Local graves are bathed in sunlight. The graves are submerged when the Gajah Mungkur reservoir fills up and reappear in the dry season. JP/Magnus Hendratmo

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    Recycled ‘scarecrows’: Plastic bags are suspended along a paddy field. The bags produce noise when the wind blows, which keeps birds away from the grain. JP/Magnus Hendratmo

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    Rodent damage: A rat infestation leaves the earth cracked where the rodents burrow underground to build nests. JP/Magnus Hendratmo

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    Protection: Bird netting is suspended across a paddy field to protect the grain as it ripens. JP/Magnus Hendratmo

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    Sweat and blood: A farmer poses while harvesting rice using a sickle in his paddy field, planted in the bed of the dried-out Gajah Mungkur reservoir. JP/Magnus Hendratmo

Magnus Hendratmo

Nearing the end of the year, the region of Wonogiri in Central Java is still experiencing dry season.

With no rain since April, the water in Wonogiri’s Gajah Mungkur reservoir has been shrinking, exposing tombtones at the bottom of the reservoir.

In 1982, 51 villages were submerged beneath the 8,800-hectare reservoir. During every dry season, the tombstones from these villages reemerge, a reminder to the residents of what used to be there inside the reservoir, which covers the seven subdistricts of Wonogiri, Ngadirojo, Nguntoronadi, Baturetno, Giriwoyo, Eromoko and Wuryantoro.

The dry season also exposes a vast paddy field located at the bottom of the reservoir. Local farmers then use the opportunity to nurture this paddy field.

The mud sediment of the reservoir is fertile soil. The farmers use pumps to suck ground water and pour it over the muddy fields for cultivation.

Long stretches of yellow grain are covered with nets, indicating that the rice is ready for harvesting. Plastic bags blown by the wind produce sounds to scare away finches feeding on the crop.

The dry season has always been a blessing for the people living around the reservoir, resulting in food self-sufficiency.