Date Released: 

Amidst the numerous heartbreaking stories from the December 2004 tsunami is one that is still unfolding—the loss of incomes from reduced agricultural productivity and fisheries in many areas of Aceh.

Although life is far from a return to normal, agriculture and fisheries, the main income sources for many people in the region continues, even as rebuilding goes on. Given the scale and breadth of the devastation the clean up efforts have been extensive and time intensive. Most of this has, understandably, been focused on urban areas, villages and rehabilitating infrastructure.

As time passes in Aceh and life returns to a degree of normality the importance of agriculture in the livelihoods of many smallholders will remain. As part of the Australian Government’s response to the Indian Ocean tsunami, ACIAR’s commitment, along with that of AusAID and the international community will help ensure that in the medium- to longer-term agriculture and fishing can meet these needs.

To date ACIAR has:

1. delivered training courses in:

2. completed projects on

  • Fisheries rehabilitation in tsunami affected Indonesia: community needs assessment and resource status
  • Management of soil fertility for restoring cropping in tsunami-affected areas of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam Province

3. begun further training activities:

In March 2005, an ACIAR team visited the devastated province of Aceh to see how best to assist in the redevelopment of the area. Following this assessment ACIAR’s response is being focused on Aceh Province. Background information.

A two-fold approach has been undertaken, initiating training to bring scientists up to speed with the skills they are likely to need to remediate soils and aquaculture ponds. Training courses have been delivered emphasising those scientists likely to play a leading role. Projects are now underway, focusing on aquaculture and soil remediation.

In the medium term, applied research and extension projects will be designed so that the results can be directly fed into development rehabilitation programs funded by Australia, FAO and other international donors.

We expect to commission collaborative work to provide technical information in some of the following areas, to underpin longer term reconstruction of agriculture and fisheries:

  • assessment of the degree of salinisation and siltation of farmland, and demonstration of strategies to allow re-use of this land for farming
  • assessment of the likely impacts on fish stocks of tsunami damage to reef systems and coastal habitats
  • re-establishment of coastal shrimp aquaculture and mariculture,
  • and possibly in re-establishment of appropriate crop planting stock, cropping systems, small ruminant production, and perhaps chicken production.

Indonesia’s tsunami-affected agriculture and fisheries R&D and extension staff in Aceh and other parts of northern Sumatra need help to re-focus their efforts on the immediate needs of local people. At the request of the Indonesian ministries, we will facilitate appropriate training workshops. Australian and Indonesian specialists will collaborate in these activities.

We are assisting AusAID, FAO and other regional organisations through consultation and access to our network of senior technical contacts in the Indonesian government system and among Australian research and extension providers. Close interaction with AusAID, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and State and Federal departments of agriculture, fisheries and natural resources will continue as longer term reconstruction and rehabilitation programs are developed, to identify opportunities for cooperation in Indonesia and other tsunami-affected countries.

In the first instance, Australian and international research and extension providers who have appropriate expertise and wish to be involved in these activities should discuss their ideas with the relevant ACIAR Research Program Manager or with Deputy Director Dr John Skerritt.

For further information on post-tsunami response of the Australian government visit the AusAID website, and for that of the international agricultural R&D community, see the CGIAR and FAO websites.

Australia’s Response to the Indian Ocean Tsunami: report for the period ending 30 June 2005 is available through the AusAID website.

The Australia Indonesia Partnership for Reconstruction and Development (AIPRD) supports Indonesia’s reconstruction and development efforts, both in and beyond tsunami-affected areas. This will be done through sustained cooperation focused on the Indonesian Government’s programs of reform, with an emphasis on economic and social development. The package will consist of $500 million in grants and $500 million in concessional loans.

AIPRD is additional to Australia’s ongoing Development Cooperation Program and Defence Cooperation Program. The initiative will bring the provision of aid to Indonesia to a total of almost $2.0 billion over five years.

Two articles on ACIAR-supported project work to rehabilitate tsunami-devastated areas appeared in New Scientist Magazine and The Land newspaper.