Pest outbreaks – This scourge involving families and tens of millions of grasshoppers has returned regularly with each harvest for three years.
During a high population, they feed and seriously damage almost all crops, trees, shrubs and vegetable gardens, starving families, aggravating existing problems such as access to a water source, if possible clean, with sufficient food, an income to live healthier, among others. Acres are destroyed in minutes; There is nothing left!
The impact is enormous for these poor families since their income is insufficient to buy other food, plants, or seedlings for replanting. Fear and stress drive people to meaningless actions, such as burning their entire fields to exterminate pests, but that also eradicates the area. On this subject, those who have come to this extreme tell us that: “-At least that allows us not to overthink about grasshoppers…”
But also, when a field is destroyed by pests, the fear that it will start again is stronger. And even if they had enough seedlings, they did not want to replant their fields because they were sure that everything would be destroyed before the harvest. Pest attacks occur on average twice a year and last for several months. May, June, July ++, and October, November ++. While we are still at the work sites in East Sumba, we can assure you that the pests are still there and that the phenomenon is not diminishing.
These swarms of pests destroy whole hectares of crops in a few minutes, mainly maize, the staple food of rural families in East Sumba. Really, in ten minutes, an entire one-hectare field of corn is reduced to nothing. Everything is eaten, right down to the ground.
In addition to the duration of the invasion, which can last for months, there is, of course, the aspect of food losses for the populations. Poverty is very present here, the level of famine affects more than 80% of the population, and nearly 90% of children suffer from underweight and undernourishment. Sadness overwhelms these people because, as they told us: “-Enough is enough…”.
Help, too, is mainly anecdotal. All they get from the authorities are the men spray gallons of pesticides. Every evening in the fields. And this most of the time without a mask because they do not have one or have not received an adequate one. We met those who fell ill and had to go to the hospital from inhaling these toxic products. They suffer from hepatic and stomach pains, have nausea, skin problems, and burning eyes.
The impact on economic life, health and access to enough food is enormous for these poor families as their income is not enough to buy to replace the lack of food caused by these pests. Vegetable crops – especially maize – are vital because rice is far too expensive for these families. Therefore, the corn is mixed with a bit of rice (when they have money to buy it) to give a little volume to their meals.
During high population, the pests feed on and severely damage almost all crops, trees, shrubs and vegetable gardens. We are in contact with the most affected people who tell us how the fruit of their labour, fields, and greens are totally destroyed in a few minutes. Grasshoppers also eat the leaves of other crops in gardens within seconds. From then on, nothing can grow anymore, and all the harvests that should have taken place tomorrow are gone forever.
As part of our work to improve the living conditions of families in ultra-rural areas, Fair Future Foundation & Kawan Baik Indonesia are looking for non-aggressive solutions (apart from pesticides) to fight against the pests that starve the inhabitants of East Sumba.
To do this, you have to go where no one goes to meet the families fighting against the destruction of crops, cornfields and almost everything that grows in the families’ fields and gardens. At the end of this head, we invite you to listen to two audio interviews with families from here, who tell us about their life with pests,
The conclusions are pretty terrible! We are looking for ways to deal with this scourge and meet the needs of families who are already economically disadvantaged. Data is collected, information analyzed and passed on to our teams and those in a position to make a difference.
This is what we suggest you see in images and audio here:
Rumah Kambera, 03.07.2022/fff/aw
Dates of Photos: May, June & July 2022 | Location: Sumba Timur, NTT
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