Mount Bromo Volcanic Ash Threatens Local Potato Crops

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  • Villagers ride on a motorcycle as Mount Bromo spews volcanic materials into the air, in Probolinggo, East Java, Dec. 24, 2015.  Indonesian authorities raised the alert level of the volcano to the second highest as its activity increased earlier this month. Indonesia has more active volcanoes than any other countries in the world. AP/Trisnadi

    Villagers ride on a motorcycle as Mount Bromo spews volcanic materials into the air, in Probolinggo, East Java, Dec. 24, 2015. Indonesian authorities raised the alert level of the volcano to the second highest as its activity increased earlier this month. Indonesia has more active volcanoes than any other countries in the world. AP/Trisnadi

    TEMPO.CO, Lumajang-Mount Bromo's volcanic ash has continued to shower over the district of Tengger in Lumajang regency on Friday, December 25, 2015. As a result, thousands of hectares of local residents' crops are at risk of being destroyed.

    "The ash cover is very constant - just like a light shower," said Subakri, a 50-year old resident of Argosari to Tempo on Friday, December 25, 2015.

    Mount Bromo's volcanic ash has showered Argosari for four days, but the ash that came down over the village on Friday is significantly thicker than before. Green grasses are now greyed out by the ashes, and Subakri is worried that his potatoes - spread across four hectares of fields - will die out.

    "The leaves are covered by a layer of ashes," he said. "If I don't clean them off, they'll all die."

    Subakri's crops were planted between 30-40 days ago - and it'll take another 60 days for the crops to mature, before they could be harvested. "Residents have tried to clean it off by spraying water on the leaves, but the ash is so constant, it is covered by ash as soon as we finish spraying," he said.

    Residents could only hope for a torrential rain, which would clear away the ashes from the leaves of their crops. "But to date, we have only received intermittent drizzles - it's simply not enough to clean the leaves," said Subakri.

    According to Mount Bromo's Volcano Observational Post, the winds have shifted towards the east in the past couple of days - explaining the ash cover across the village of Argosari. Winds are carrying ashes to a height of 1,000 metres above the crater - or 3,329 metres above sea level. Volcanic tremors are still reported, and thunderous, rumbling noises from the crater are also still frequent.

    DAVID PRIYASIDHARTA