MORE than 100 farming families will reap the rewards of increased productivity after the International Organization for Migration (IOM) launched a new irrigation system in Kebon village, Klaten, Central Java, on Thursday, December 17.
A new irrigation system, funded by the multi-donor Java Reconstruction Fund (JRF), was launched at a ceremony attended by government dignitaries, community representatives, IOM partners and beneficiaries of the project.
The new system was built as part of the IOM-JRF Livelihoods programme and will directly benefit 121 rice and vegetable farming families and indirectly benefit six more families in the area.
One farmer, S. T. Waluyo, 42, said the new system would have a major impact on his life and on other farmers in the area.
“The irrigation channel will enable farmers to get sufficient water in the third growing season (the last four months of the year) because at that time water is usually hard to find,” he said..
“But with the irrigation system, water will be easier to supply. And on of course it will increase the income of farmers with more productive growing season.”
Productivity is expected to increase by 25 per cent – from eight tonnes per hectare to ten tons. The previous irrigation system distributed water unevenly to the rice fields. In addition, the new infrastructure will provide a reliable source of water to an extra 30 per cent of arable land.
Kebon’s Head of Village, Sukaca, said the new irrigation system would rejuvenate economic activity in the area which was extensively damaged in the May 2006 earthquake.
“Because of the impact of the earthquake, the productivity of our farmers fell down significantly – by about 30 per cent. Before the earthquake, one hectare of paddy field could produce eight-ton yields. But after the earthquake, it was just six to six and a half per one hectare. It is caused by abnormal irrigation system,” Sukaca said.
“So I hope the new irrigation channel will help us to get back our productivity to what we used to have before the earthquake.”
IOM Programme Manager of the Livelihoods programme, Johan Grundberg, said the project would produce long-term benefits.
“Besides restoring the irrigation system, the project’s technical assistance promotes sustainable agriculture techniques and strengthens local farm institutions. These initiatives ensure that adequate local capacity is in place to maintain the irrigation system after IOM’s exit,” Mr Grundberg said.
Construction on the new irrigation system began in August 2009 in response to a Local Government request to IOM to provide a new irrigation system as a priority for the area, in which 21.8 per cent of the population lives in poverty.
The IOM-JRF Livelihoods programme is supporting 3,000 beneficiaries in earthquake-affected areas of Yogyakarta and Central Java to restore their micro- and small-enterprises to pre-earthquake capacity. It is also rebuilding damaged vital infrastructure, such as the irrigation systems.