Indonesian farmers rely on paraquat to increase efficiency and productivity, generating more income and more time for their families. This has been confirmed by recent surveys carried out in two important agricultural districts of Indonesia.
Maize and paddy rice are the major crops grown in Grobogan District, central Java. Since 1999, farmers in Grobogan have been expanding their maize growing. This was initiated by a change in government policy to encourage agroforestry.
Maize can be grown in young teak plantations while the canopy is still sparse. However, the additional cultivated land has put huge pressure on labor requirements.
Barito Kuala is a low lying rice growing district in the south of Kalimantan. For the most part the land is at, or only a few metres above, sea level, and much of it is subject to frequent flooding when the incoming tide pushes water back up the river deltas (see article on tidal rice). Rice is key to Indonesia’s food security. Although Indonesia is the world’s third largest producer of rice, it is also the seventh largest importer, with a current annual deficit of more than one million tonnes.1 Most farmers have been using paraquat since the 1990s.
Why use paraquat?
The surveys showed that in both districts paraquat is extensively used for weed control.