Farmers to receive post-eruption aid

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Business | Wed, March 05 2014, 11:04 AM

The government is to provide seeds to victims of the eruptions from Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra and Mount Kelud in Kediri, East Java, to help recover their livelihoods, says a minister.

Agriculture Minister Suswono said on Tuesday that his ministry had allocated Rp 129 billion [US$11 million] to mitigate the impact the Mt. Sinabung eruption had on farmland and another Rp 103 billion to farmers affected by the Mt. Kelud eruption.

He said that of the Rp 129 billion allocated to farmers living nearby Mt. Sinabung, Rp 2.7 billion had been disbursed in the form of seeds.

“We are focusing on how to provide seeds right now,” he told a press conference at the ministry.

“We will continue giving more seeds to the victims.”

In addition to the Rp 2.7 billion, he said the ministry would allocate another Rp 42.6 billion worth of seeds around 19 villages around Mt. Sinabung.

Sinabung’s eruption destroyed around 50,921 hectares (ha) of farmland in 14 subdistricts in Karo regency, North Sumatra, causing an estimated loss of Rp 1.3 trillion to 1.5 trillion, according to Agriculture Ministry data.

Most of the commodities farmed in those areas are vegetables, rice, cacao, coffee and corn.

The Mt. Sinabung eruption claimed at least 17 lives and displaced more than 30,000 people.

Meanwhile, the ministry may need to spend an estimated Rp 103 billion to assist in the recovery of farmland destroyed in Mt. Kelud’s eruption, according to Suswono.

The loss caused by Mt. Kelud in the agriculture sector is estimated to be around Rp 377 billion, according to the ministry’s director general for horticulture, Hasanuddin Ibrahim.

Rice, cacao, coffee, corn, chili, tomato, orange and mango are among commodities grown around Mt. Kelud.

Farmland destroyed in this eruption amounted to 4,136 ha in Malang, East Java, and 13,194 ha in Kediri.

The 1,731-meter high Mt. Kelud is among 130 active volcanoes in Indonesia. The archipelago is prone to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes due to its geographical location on the Ring of Fire — a series of fault lines stretching from the Western Hemisphere through Japan and Southeast Asia. (alz)