FAO distributes aid to farming and fishing households in Palu

FAO distributes aid to farming and fishing households in Palu

02/07/2019

The Governor’s office in Central Sulawesi and the Provincial Department of Agriculture organized a special event today in Sigi District to recognize the support being provided by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to victims of the earthquake and the tsunami that struck on 28th September last year.

FAO is collaborating with local government agencies to distribute aid to selected households in Palu, Sigi and Donggala, with agricultural inputs being provided to more than 8000 farming households in 132 villages across 21 sub-districts. The agriculture inputs being distributed include 430 tons of fertilizer, over 7 tons of seeds of maize, tomato, and cayenne pepper, and over 500 thousand meters of plastic mulch.

In June, FAO also distributed cash assistance to around 4000 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 3000 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 that was held in Sigi today.

FAO’s component on food security with a budget of USD 1 million is part of a larger programme financed by the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to assist the Government respond to the earthquake and tsunami. The FAO component was designed to restore food production and boost the livelihoods of vulnerable households affected by 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," said Nono.

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) programme implemented by the Ministry of Social Welfare.

Anita (36) mother of two sons, wife of a farmer in Kutapulu, Sigi used to sell brownies and jelly to support her family. At the earthquake, Anita’s newly built house was badly damaged, including her kitchen where she produced the delicacies that she sold. Fortunately, she and her family survived. “The day after the earthquake, the first things that my husband recovered from the rubble of our house were the stove and oven, along with her kitchen tools. He knew that these were important for me, and for our family”, she said. With her husband, she built a temporary house behind the damaged one, including a kitchen.

After Anita received cash assistance from FAO in earlier this year, she started her small business again. She used some of the cash to 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 Rp. 30.000 per day, and that adds to our family income, so it helps my husband and I 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 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.

Abdul is among eight thousand farmers who received agricultural aids that are distributed by the FAO. 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. FAO has been supporting the people of Indonesia for nearly 70 years with programmes to boost food production and supply.