Rice is the staple food for more than half the world. In Asia alone, more than two billion people get more than 60 percent of their calories from rice, a water-intensive crop. Efficient and productive rice production systems are essential for economic development, water conservation and improved quality of life for much of the world’s population.
Farmers in Indonesia’s Sekongkang Subdistrict on Sumbawa, where Batu Hijau is located, are doubling their rice harvests thanks to support from PT Newmont Nusa Tenggara (PTNNT) and the local government. Through this partnership, farmers have implemented the Jajar Legowo cropping system over the last two years, following upgrades to local irrigation systems relying on the Plampo Dam, which was built by PTNNT in 2006.
The system features planting rice paddies and other row crops on the edge of the field, or in a pattern interspersed with empty rows, to improve yields. As a result, local rice farmers are now harvesting rice at an average rate of 9.9 tons of dry rice grains per hectare, more than doubling previous harvests.
“Previously, local farmers’ maximum harvest rate was five tons per hectare using traditional planting patterns,” said Syarafuddin S.P., a field agricultural expert explained during a local harvest celebration. “Since the Jajar Legowo system was introduced, they have been able to produce more than eight tons per hectare.”
He went on to explain the benefits of the system. “Normally paddy plants on the edge of the field do better than those planted inside, because of better exposure to sunlight and air circulation,” he said. “Therefore, regulating the planting pattern is the key.”
The Head of the Agricultural Office of Sekongkang, who also attended the celebration, also expressed his support for the program. “The results are extraordinary here in Sekongkang. I hope that other villages in the regency will adopt the new planting system,” he said.