Farmers on Dieng Plateau has been suffering from damaging soil. Land exploitation caused soil at the region lost its fertility.
- Prayitno / Angga Haksoro
- 11 Mei 2011 – 16:25 WIB
Winardi is one of farmers at Dieng Kulon, one village of Banjarnegara District in Central Java. He complains about his crops recently. Most of potatoes, that he had harvested, ripped. At the same time, selling price for potatoes has decreased sharply.
Farming is the only way that Winardi knows to earn money. His plantation field is located on a slope at the area of Arjuna Temple in Dieng Plateau. The soil is not fertile as it used to be. “The soil is very wet now. It has lost its fertility,” Winardi complained.
The soil has been contaminated by chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Now, most of plantation areas at the village have changed into a mud pool. It is impossible to plant vegetables, including potatoes, on that soil. “I had put fertilizers on the soil, but it did not help,” Winardi explained.
The farmer in his 50s now only got four quintals of potatoes from his harvest. It is sharply decreased, compared to more than 1.5 tonnes of potatoes that he harvested from 400 sq meters of plantation field in several years ago.
Rahman is another farmer in Dieng Kulon. The amount of his crops also had been decreased sharply this year. In the years when soil in Dieng was very fertile, Rahman could harvest 20 to 30 tonnes of potatoes. But in this year, only 15 tonnes of potatoes were ready to be harvested. “The quality of potatoes also declined,” said Rahman.
The decreasing amount and quality of the crops gives bad impact to farmers. They don’t earn enough money for the next plantation season.
Farmers have used wrong plantation methods
7,758 hectares of land in Dieng have lost its fertility, according to the Deputy Head of Banjarnegara District Soehardjo. The damages have been triggered by wrong planting methods, as farmers exploited the soil continuously and neglected the methods of sustainable plantation.
Lack of farmers’ knowledge about maintaining the environment is among contributing factors of the damages.
Soehardjo explained that it takes very expensive cost to recover the soil fertility. Farmers in Dieng have neglected the land contour, that is located on slopes. “Among the methods to recover the soil fertility is to plant big trees. They can plant those trees on cliffs, and cut them when those trees start covering the potatoes,” Soehardjo added.
The erosion caused another problem, namely landslides. Approximately five people died on a landslide in last year.
One local NGO, Bhineka Karya, noted that plantation areas in Dieng Plateau have significantly switched into plantation areas for potatoes, carrots and other vegetables.
This “hunger” for plantation areas has get farmers in Dieng to cut forest in the region. “Residents of Dieng have no other ways to earn money but farming. That has encouraged them to plant crops at the areas with high possibilities of disasters,” said the Bhineka Karya Chairman Tafrihan.
Bhineka Karya now is encouraging farmers to set up farmers’ society and compile city plan, agroforestry and sustainable agriculture to save Dieng. “Our aim is to save the Dieng Plateau. We also encourage schools in Dieng to put environment issues into the school curriculum,” Tafrihan explained. (*)