Aceh crops finally flourish following the 2004 tsunami’s impact on the landscape
The impact of the earthquake and tsunami on the village of Desa Baro is a story common along coastal parts of Aceh. Subsidence caused by the earthquake and the physical impact of the tsunami has dramatically altered the landscape. Desa Baro lies on Aceh’s east coast, which was not as badly affected as the west coast. However subsidence led to more than 20 hectares of productive farmland being inundated by high tides.
Efforts to rehabilitate fields impacted by salinity and tsunami deposits led to successful soybean and rice crops in 2007 and 2008, however success was limited to fields not affected by tidal inundation.
A solution to the problem of tidal inundation came from an unexpected source. The local farmers invited the District Governor to the traditional harvest ceremony for the first successful soybean crop since the tsunami three years previous.
The farmers raised the issue of the altered landscape and tidal inundation with the
Governor and he spontaneously agreed to find funds to support the construction of a tidal gate. A site identified by the ACIAR project for the tidal gate was confirmed with the Governor, sealing his promise to support the village.
With the construction of the gate completed in 2008, an additional 20 hectares are now available to Desa Baro’s farmers. The 2009 rice harvest in reached 8.5 tonnes per hectare, providing a healthy financial return. The most recent rice crop was also successful, planted five years to the day since the tsunami.
Improved rice varieties and better fertiliser management have increased farmers’ rice pro¬duction, and consistent yields and a good selling price give hope to the villagers of Desa Baro that they have a future in farming.
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