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Agricultural Crisis on Nusa Penida

Bali's Near Neighbor of Nusa Penida Facing Threat of Famine Due to Drought and Pestilence.

(12/21/2009) Five villages on Nusa Penida, just a few miles off Bali's shores, are facing famine-like conditions due to a pestilence attack and the resulting failed crops. According to Bali Post, the five villages are Bunga Mekar, Batikandik, Batu Madeg, Klumpu and Sekartaji.

The Head of the Klungkung Office for Crop Welfare (KKPP), Ida Kade Arga, has asked the government to extend emergency aid of Rp. 5 million (US$500) per affected village to help prevent food shortages for local populations whose staple corn crops have been decimated by pestilence.

Agricultural data from the government indicate that Nusa Penida has some 459 hectares of land under corn cultivation, 292 hectares planted for red beans and 161 hectares for peanuts. All these crops have been negatively impacted by a prolonged drought and pestilence, creating additional suffering for the island dwellers where 47.83% of the total population already live below the official poverty line.

Arga told the press that his office is doing all within its powers to prevent food shortages on Nusa Penida. The requested Rp. 5 million per village will be carefully monitored by his office to help alleviate the people's suffering.

Admitting that the amount of food aid was quite small, Agra responded by defending agricultural production for the entire Klungkung regency which produced a carbohydrate surplus in 2009 of 6,939 tons of crops comprised of corn, tapioca, peanuts and other crops. Because of good distribution procedures, prices have remained relatively stable for agricultural produce. As a result, through September 2009 only 19 cases of malnutrition were reported for the entire regency.

Arga is worried, however, that a worsening agricultural outlook will see the cases of poor nutrition increase in the regency of Klungkung in 2010.