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Indonesia: Better Irrigation bringing Better Harvest and Relations among the Community

September 21, 2011

  • PNPM Rural is creating positive impact on poverty reduction, economic household welfare, and service delivery
  • PNPM Rural remains a cost-effective means of providing needed infrastructure of sufficient quality relative to other approaches
  • Annualy, PNPM Rural benefit 34 - 35 million people. In 2010, 3,447 irrigation systems built

West Java, September 21, 2011 - Lemahsugih District, with a temperature range of 19 to 23 degrees centigrade, is one of the areas in Majalengka Regency, West Java Province, located in the foothills of Cakrabuana Mountain. The people there make a living cultivating the land. The District is a center for the production of vegetables, in addition the people of Lemahsugih also cultivate rice. However, this farming community faces production constraints due to a lack of an integrated irrigation system.

Up until now, the people of the Pasirhanja community in Margajaya Village have depended on rainfall to provide water for the rice crops they cultivate even though other water resources exist. The problem is that existing irrigation channels do not distribute water evenly over the rice cultivation area of 30 hectares.

The upstream rice fields are easily irrigated, but steady availability of water is a chronic problem in the downstream fields. The unpaved irrigation channels leak and are easily damaged during the rainy season so there are wide tracks of land without adequate irrigation, especially during the dry season. This uneven distribution of water has caused a longstanding conflict among the people. The irrigation of their rice fields always results in quarrels, brawls, and enmity as they all struggle to get adequate water for their crops. Water, which is generally known for its calming effect, has become the source of heated disputes in the Pasirhanja community.

The water fall there does not optimally fulfill the farmers’ needs because there is no proper irrigation system to direct the water adequately and support the production of rice. This lack of irrigation coverage, which leaves so many fields dry, means that farmers only plant during the rainy season. This results in only one harvest of 105 tons of unhulled rice from 30 hectares of rice fields.

The Margajaya community administration led by Kalsa Ruswanda has sought out all kinds of advice from various sources on possibilities for resolving the problem of building a proper irrigation channel in Pasirhanja, but to no avail.

In 2010, Lemahsugih District received assistance from the PNPM Mandiri Rural. The Margajaya community, through discussions which then led to an agreement among the various villages involved, then prioritized the development of a 1,000 meter irrigation channel.

The Pasirhanja Irrigation Channel development started in October and completed in December 2010 with a total cost of Rp 143,252,000. The development process, managed by TPK under the supervision of Baban Sutisman took a total of 45 days. The community enthusiastically jumped in to help with the labor required for this development. Every day, there were 15 volunteers, both men and women, from one of the three neighborhood units taking part in the building of the irrigation channel. They carried materials and helpd with other tasks to help the completion of the irrigation channel. The people of the community also contributed 40 m³ of stone foundation worth Rp 4.4 million and 10 m³ of sand valued at Rp 1.5 million.

The building of the irrigation channel immediately put an end to the conflict among the farmers in Pasirhanja because water now flows evenly in the upstream and downstream areas, providing everyone an adequate share of water for their rice fields. The farmers now benefit from being able to plant two or three rice crops per year because water is now available even during the dry season. Production is now expected to rise from 210 tons to 315 tons of unhulled rice.