2 A timeframe for agricultural recovery

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Long-term activities: 12 months onwards

Transfer technology and knowledge to the farming community

As information on farming on tsunami-affected soils becomes available, it needs to be passed on to farmers as quickly as possible to ensure that they receive up-to-date information. Farm demonstrations, field days and training for extension staff will all show farmers what methods work best.

Continue to build the capacity of farmers, extension staff and non-government organisations to manage soils

The Aceh experience showed that important relationships and networks were established though training and extension activities after the tsunami. These networks need to be strengthened over time to build farming knowledge and expertise, and to maintain contact between farmers, agronomists and NGOs. Training can focus on the agronomic and ecological aspects of farming in existing and new agricultural areas, and the importance of protecting natural ecosystems, such as peat land, wetlands and forest. Demonstration sites (see Section 4) are important for bringing groups together for updates on farming practices and rehabilitation efforts, and for possible collaboration.

In many cultures, women comprise the majority of the workforce in agriculture. All consultation processes should involve women farmers (see Section 5). They should assess issues such as education, the contribution of home-based food production to local food security, improved family nutrition provided by a diverse diet, income-generating activities, and equitable and secure access to land.

Expand support programs to unaffected areas

Areas unaffected by the tsunami may miss out on the support and training provided to farmers in tsunami-affected areas. In Aceh, for instance, the unaffected inland areas have higher levels of poverty than the coastal areas, and an even greater need for information and training.

Monitor plant nutrition

Although crops may be re-established relatively quickly after a tsunami, the loss of organic matter, and residues of salt and sediment can contribute to longer-term nutritional disorders affecting growth, flowering and fruiting, or grain filling (see Section 4). Monitoring plant nutrition over the long term is therefore essential.

Monitor tree crops

Tree crops are an important part of coastal farming systems in many areas. The post-tsunami condition of tree crops should be monitored over the longer term. Saline water can severely affect commonly grown tree crops, including rambutan, mangosteen and rubber. Although soil and groundwater salinity declined rapidly with wet-season rainfall, groundwater salinity in West Aceh continued to fluctuate (Marohn et al. 2012), and recurring episodes of elevated salinity damaged rubber tree crops and reduced coconut yields. New plantings of deep-rooted tree crops may be affected some years after the tsunami where groundwater levels and salinity continue to fluctuate.

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