FAO Distributes Aid to Farmers Affected by Earthquake in Palu

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  • FAO distributes aids to earthquake victims in Sulawesi. Doc.: FAO

    FAO distributes aids to earthquake victims in Sulawesi. Doc.: FAO

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Central Sulawesi Governor’s office and the regional Agricultural Department collaborate with the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to distribute aid to victims of the earthquake and the tsunami that struck on September 28, 2018.  The event was held in Sigi District today, July 2.

    FAO and local government agencies distribute the aid to selected households in Palu, Sigi and Donggala, with agricultural inputs being distributed to more than 8,000 farming households in 132 villages across 21 sub-districts. The agriculture inputs include 430 tons of fertilizer, over 7 tons of seeds of maize, tomato, and cayenne pepper, and over 500,000 meters of plastic mulch.

    In June, FAO also distributed cash assistance to around 4,000 households in 175 villages with pregnant or lactating mothers and children under 5 years old.  In July, FAO will provide fishing equipment including nets and cool-boxes to around 3,000 households in the affected area. 

    “It is part of our mandate to support emergency relief to restore food production and rebuild the livelihoods of farmers and fishermen in Palu, Sigi and Donggala. We would like to ensure that local people in the affected area are able to resume their normal lives”, said Stephen Rudgard, FAO Representative in Indonesia, in the aid distribution ceremony today. 

    FAO’s component on food security with a budget of US$1 million is part of a larger program financed by the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to assist the Government response to the earthquake and tsunami. 

    The FAO component was designed to restore food production and boost the livelihoods of vulnerable households affected by a disaster, and it targeted the most vulnerable and affected communities who rely on agriculture and fisheries.  The selection of households was completed in close collaboration with local government and village authorities.

    Nono Rusono, the National Project Coordinator from Bappenas who was also presented at the event said that the disaster location was the focus of Bappenas in the development.

    "Bappenas considered that cooperation with development partners such as FAO would accelerate rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts, especially the sectors for food and agriculture," he said.

    Cash transfer as capital for small businesses

    Housewives and mothers are the main target of the cash assistance, which is intended to boost the family consumption of nutritious food, and particularly for children.  

    Moreover, some recipients are using the cash assistance to restart their small businesses.  The provision of cash has been achieved through the Government’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program implemented by the Ministry of Social Welfare.

    One of the cash receivers, Anita (36), a mother of two sons and wife of a farmer in Kutapulu, Sigi, used to sell brownies and jelly to support her family. Her newly built house was badly damaged by the earthquake, including her kitchen where she produced the delicacies that she sold. Fortunately, she and her family survived. 

    She used some of the cash to start her business, buy nutritious food for her family, and the rest was used to buy cooking ingredients to make brownies and jelly. 

    “I used the cash to restart my small business, which earns me around Rp30,000 per day, and that adds to our family income, so it helps my husband and me to feed my children”, she said.   

    Agricultural inputs provide a temporary solution

    Abdul Rahim (44) is a farmer in Dolo village, Sigi. He had been cultivating a 1-hectare rice field since 1997, but the earthquake cut the irrigation supply to his field, and this year he has not been able to grow rice. 

    Abdul is one of 8,000 recipients of agricultural inputs from FAO, including maize seeds and fertilizer, with which he is trying to restore his life. 

    “I heard that we need much less water to grow maize, so I would like to try. Any agricultural support will help me for now”, he said.  Abdul is hoping that the irrigation water channels in his village will be restored soon, so he will be able to return to growing rice.

    It is estimated that the earthquake and tsunami damaged nearly 10 000 hectares of agricultural land, with rice and maize being the most affected crops. 

    The loss of vegetable production is also estimated to be particularly high. In Sigi District, damage to the main irrigation system has cut off water supply to over 8,000 hectares of farming land and many aquaculture ponds.