As many as 50 hectares of rice fields at Juwiran village, Juwiring, in the city of Klaten have been attacked by cocoa pests, leading to crop failures.
“We fail to yield crops this season. As many as 50 hectares of our rice fields have been attacked by cocoa pests,” said Sarwan, chairman of farmer group Gemah Ripah in Juwiran, Juwiring, Klaten, Thursday (23/6) in Faculty of Agriculture UGM.
The attack was not the first one. Six previous crop seasons have been attacked, too. “We have crop failures for the past two years due to the same cocoa attack. The rice plant was attacked when it was 2.5 months,” he said.
Due to the attack, he suffered from a substantial loss. For each season he had to loan some 5 million rupiah from the bank.
So far, he made use of pesticides to destroy the pests, but this was not successful. Pests keep attacking the rice field. “We have done pesticide spraying, but it couldn’t send the pests away. Therefore, now we’re visiting the Faculty of Agriculture to request for guidance, so far they have been successful with Marsudi Karya farmer group in dealing with cocoa pests,” he explained.
Sarwan said the Faculty of Agriculture had done mentoring for 4 months with Marsudi Karya group. The results have been satisfactory. “After the mentoring, around 70-80% have reaped yields. This was done for 20 hectares of fields,” he said.
Dean of the Faculty, Prof. Ir. Triwibowo Yuwono., Ph.D., called for farmers to be on alert against cocoa pests. “The attack of cocoa pests is increasing and spreading. So, we have to be on alert. This matter should be monitored, but we cannot do this on ourselves. A synergy is needed with the Agriculture Ministry and the regional government to resolve the issue,” Yuwono said.
Yuwono said that climate change is one of the factors affecting the growth of cocoa pests. The high precipitation in the dry season of 2010 caused humid microclimate condition which is conducive for the growth of such pests.
In addition, the unavailability of crop rotation and rice planting patterns that are not simultaneous have also caused the increasing population. The non-simultaneous planting has made feed constantly available for pests. “Therefore, we call for farmers to plant simultaneously with the same variety and same age to minimize pesticide uses in pest control,” he added.