FAO/GIEWS - Foodcrops and Shortages  - 02/05 - INDONESIA (9 February)

INDONESIA (9 February)

The western island of Sumatra, the closest inhabited area to the epicentre of the earthquake, was devastated by tsunami. The death toll in Indonesia from the tsunami rose to over 230 000 (including dead or listed as missing). More than 70 percent of the inhabitants of some coastal villages are reported to have died. The most affected areas are located in Aceh province and two districts in North Sumatra.

In Aceh province, agriculture is important for the economy, accounting for 32.2 percent of regional GDP and employing 47.6 percent of the labour force in 2003. In agriculture, food crop production was the predominant activity with minor contributions from horticulture, plantations and animal husbandry.

The 2005 main season paddy and maize crops, to be harvested from March, were already in the ground when the tsunami hit Sumatra. The island of Sumatra is the second in Indonesia in terms of rice production, but the two worst affected provinces together (all districts) account for some 10 percent of the aggregate national output in a normal year. FAO assessments indicate that some 40 000 hectares of irrigated lands have been devastated by the floods and 30 981 hectares of paddy damaged. The immediate crop losses are estimated at 80 000 tonnes of paddy and 160 000 tonnes of other crops. Besides the immediate losses in crop production, sand and mud deposits on the agricultural land, erosion, salinization and irrigation scheme damage, will result in some permanent loss in agricultural land. In addition to the tsunami damage, flash floods in the last dekad of January have reportedly destroyed over 21 793 hectares of rice fields and 3 686 hectares of maize crops in Lampung. The flood waters also damaged 16 678 hectares of rice fields in the neighbouring province of South Sumatra. The crop damage will have a serious impact on food security for the affected populations, although it is not expected to affect overall national prospects for the 2005 main paddy harvest.

Livestock has been a growing sector in Aceh province. The preliminary estimate indicates that 23 300 large ruminants, 21 000 small ruminants and about 2.5 million poultry birds were lost due to the tsunami. The fisheries sector is an important economic activity for Sumatra Island, accounting for about one-third of the national fish catches. The sector provides employment to over 100 000 people in the disaster affected areas of Aceh Province and Northern Sumatra. Some 65-70 percent of the small scale fishing fleet and associated gear was destroyed. Some 15-20 percent of the fishers in the 18 worst affected kabupatens have been killed. The output of Aceh’s fishing industry is estimated to fall by 60 percent in 2005. Losses of fishing equipment and gear, destruction and damage to fishery infrastructure and facilities, including fish ports and fishponds, will have a long-term negative impact to national and local economy.

WFP has provided some 8 200 tonnes of food aid since the advent of the disaster. The Government of Indonesia declared on 4 February that the first phase of the emergency relief operation in Aceh province has ended and that recovery and reconstruction in tsunami-affected areas will begin. There are now 250 international organizations operating in Aceh province. FAO continues to take the lead in the coordination of relief and recovery in agriculture and fisheries.

The overall food supply situation in Indonesia is satisfactory. The aggregate 2004 paddy output (main and secondary seasons) was officially estimated at 54 million tonnes, some 4 percent above the good harvest of 2003, due to excellent growing conditions and government support to domestic producer price. Indonesia has been a large rice importer in recent years. However, following last year’s bumper crop, the Government banned imports of rice in 2004. The government has extended this ban until June 2005.