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Jakarta Post

Extreme weather hits farms, ruins harvests

Slamet Susanto and Ruslan Sangadji
Yogyakarta/Palu   ●   Wed, September 16, 2015

The current extreme weather has aborted harvests on hundreds of destroyed of farmland in Yogyakarta and Central Sulawesi, causing farmers in the two provinces billions of rupiah in losses.

'€œThe [current] weather and climate are extraordinary, unpredictable. For years, August until October has been the best time for planting onions,'€ said Sumarwanto, a farmer from Srigading village, Bantul, Yogyakarta.

The 47-year-old said temperatures could be cool, reaching 18 to 20 degrees Celsius on one day, then suddenly increase to above 35oC.

Because of the extreme weather, Sumarwanto said he could not harvest the commodity on his hectare of land as the onion plants, which were aged between 30 to 40 days, dried up in just two days.

'€œTo plant the onions, I spent about Rp 20 million [US$1,390],'€ said the father of one.

About 80 percent of 400 hectares of farmland in Sanden district, Bantul, which had been planted with onions, were reportedly suffering harvest failure. Similarly, about 170 hectares of onions in Parangtritis, Kretek district, in the same regency, were facing the same fate.

Bantul Agriculture Agency head Partogi Pakpahan said his agency did not yet know why the leaves of the onions had become yellow and dry.

'€œThis morning, we are sending a team to the fields to investigate,'€ Partogi told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

He said the harvest failures occurred on farmland located within a 4-kilometer radius of the beach, while land located far from the coast was not experiencing the issue.

Meanwhile, many farmers in Bolupontu Jaya transmigration village, Sigi regency, Central Sulawesi, have reportedly moved into construction and mining work due to the prolonged dry season.

One of the farmers, Abbas Daeng Malewa, said he and his friends worked in construction for government projects in Sigi since there was no agricultural work in their village.

'€œWe worked on a bridge development for two months in Kalukubula village, Sigi,'€ Abbas told the Post recently.

After the bridge was completed, Abbas said he and his friends began working in traditional gold mining in Palu. '€œWe have been working here for 11 days.'€

However, Abbas said they could not stand working in construction or mining for long as their skills were in farming.

'€œWe don'€™t know when the dry season will end,'€ he said.

Abbas'€™ village is known as a center for agricultural products, such as onions, chilies, tomatoes, mustard, cucumbers, eggplants, long beans and melons, which are sold to other areas in the province and East Kalimantan.

Similarly, farmers in the highlands of Napu, Poso regency, have suffered losses because of the prolonged dry season.

Ruben, a farmer of Maholo village, North Lore district, Poso, said many farmland areas were not currently productive. '€œMy plants died due to drought.'€

He said the highlands used to produce vegetables such as cabbages, beans and read beans, as well as fruits such as oranges, papaya and melons.

Another farmer, Arman from Watumaeta village, said he suffered failures of his cabbage and tomato crops due to the drought, which has affected the area for three months.

'€œThis time, farmers are suffering big losses,'€ he said.