Subject: JP: Famine Looms In NTT Due To Drought, Grasshoppers
The Jakarta Post Thursday, February 25, 2010
Famine Looms In NTT Due To Drought, Grasshoppers
Yemris Fointuna, The Jakarta Post, Kupang
Six regencies in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) face food crises due to prolonged drought and pest attacks, an official says.
Petrus Langoday, head of the provincial Food Security and Supervision Agency, said in Kupang on Wednesday that drought and pests had affected regional food supplies.
"All concerned institutions need to take early anticipative measures, especially in the case of possible drought that may follow the planting season."
Five of the six regencies - South Timor Tengah, Alor, Rote Ndao, East Sumba and Lembata regencies - are believed to be in critical condition.
Prolonged drought has dried up rice fields in the region including Kupang regency, whose population is mainly made up of farmers.
The farmers have been forced to halt planting due to diminished water supplies, and are relying on container trucks or drilled wells to water their drying rice fields.
"We have to spend extra money for that," said Martinus Kiuk, who lives in Naibonat subdistrict.
NTT residents are reportedly expecting rainfall will salvage corn plantations, a local staple.
Petrus said the province had 40,000 tons of rice supply in its State Logistic Agency (Bulog) and 40,000 tons of rice in the community's reserve.
The supply of corn is predicted to be 38,000 tons with 44,000 tons of tubers.
"These will be hopefully sufficient for the people's consumption for the next few months."
In some regions, rice fields and crops have been damaged due to grasshopper attacks, prompting the East Manggarai regency administration to stay alert for further pest attacks in a number of subdistricts that have become the region's rice production centers.
Regent Yoseph Tote said in a press release that his administration had deployed a special team to help people combat the concerning grasshopper attacks.
"The regency administration will provide the seeds for replanting."
The grasshoppers reportedly have attacked five subdistricts in Kota Komba district, destroying 3,000 hectares of rice fields.
Around 500 hectares will experience harvest failures.