Elegies and Local Wisdom in Srumbung

Wisma Nazareth – Banteng Parish, Yogyakarta, Indonesia – 18/11/10 – 09:00 West Indonesia Time.  Srumbung is a district in Magelang Regency, Central Java, Indonesia. It is located about eight to eleven kilometers from the Mt. Merapi crater on the western slope of the mountain, within the territory of Central Java Province.

Snake skin fruit (zalacca edulis) or salak in Indonesian language is the main product of Srumbung. The fruit have been provided prosperity for the citizens for many years. Nglumut is a specific variety of salak fruit from Srumbung, which already been marketed throughout Indonesia even to the neighbouring countries. There are nine out of seventeen villages in Srumbung which have been traditionally become this fruit producers. It used to be that those villages produce about 37,500 metric tons of salak annually with total gross income to about US$ 14,583,333, figuring out from what Ali Setyadi, the former District Chief of Srumbung, said more than a year ago.

“But unfortunately our product has been claimed as Salak Pondoh, as if it comes from Sleman, because brokers from that neighbouring regency of Yogyakarta Province have more market access” said Ali Setyadi, the former District Chief of Srumbung as what quoted in www.epwisata.com on 12 June, 2009. 

That marketing elegy from Srumbung is now added with damages of salak farms because of the Mt. Merapi eruptions since 26 October 2010. It is something never imagined by Srumbung citizens. Even though they had the experience of several different eruptions before, but the impacts of them were not as large and massive as the latest.

The elegies in Srumbung live coexistence peacefully with local wisdom. Indeed the people got challenges as they struggle for lives, but those never made them gave up.

Suwaji, a salak farmer from Waru Doyong in Srumbung estimates that the economy recovery for the farms in Srumbung will at least two to three years from now.

“That will be achieved if we can survive most of trees that damaged by the disaster these days. What we’ll try to do is by trimming, hoping that by next year new leaves will come and after that the fruit will gradually grow. I think I’ll be able to harvest about 200kgs of salak weekly at that time, comparing to three to five hundred kilograms in normal time” Suwaji said.

During the absent of income for the first year and more, Suwaji plans to be a jack of all trade worker, probably volcanic sand mining, or working in another salak farms who need his help to recover. At the same time he hopes that government may help farmers with food stocks, and as for their farms what he hopes is free distribution for fertilizer and plant supplements to enhance the recovery process for the trees.
Tumirah, a woman who used to harvest two to three hundred kilograms of salak every week with gross income approximately as much as US$ 217 weekly, unable to say what she hopes from government in helping people like her.
“You see,… all the farms almost totally damaged like this. In another piece of land, I have four hundred seed plants already, but I haven’t known yet what happened with them. How can I express my hopes then for government to help us in this kind of total damages? I think what we’ll do is working together in recovering the condition. Thanks to God that clean water is still running in our neighbourhood. Also, most of our houses are only full of dirt but they are not damaged” Tumirah underlines the importance of community work after the disaster ends later, and will not lean too much to the government intervention for village recovery.
Salamsari in Srumbung to where Tumirah lives can be identified as a prosperous sub-village. Housings are in good and healthy condition, bricks constructions and furnished well. Cars and motorcycle are common vehicles drove by the local people. The path of salak farm success is obvious. Only some of houses are damaged caused from their simple constructions. 
Muslikah is another woman living in Srumbung. It used to be that she could harvest two to three hundred kilograms of salak with various incomes between US$89 through US$133. As for the farm recovery, she is pessimistic whether it can be saved for the damaged is so massive.
“I still do not know how should I earn money, but what I really pray is given a fit and healthy body, so that I can work. If government will provide helps for me, that’ll be welcomed, if it won’t then what I should say?” Muslikah explains the uncertain near future condition of her lives.
Muslikah has three adult children, with the oldest working as a migrant worker in Malaysia. At this moment, he is the only hope for economy support that she can cling to. When answering what she really needs in the near future, Muslikah said that aid to support farms is very welcomed, so does with cash.
Darmono is a senior person from Srumbung. He has some pieces of land with salak trees growing. As to respond the disaster, Darmono advices people to aware that it is God will. It is His intention as a reminder for people to live better in following His will.
“Say as an example, local people here used to fight each other to snatch the sand mining areas. Here it is now God sends so much volcanic sand for us to mine as much as we can. Would that still made us quarrel each other in the future to occupy the mining areas, then I don’t know how to say for that already beyond the limit. I repeatedly remind people as we live together in refugee camp, what happened with us today is similar to what God did in Noah time” Darmono advices.
There are living elegies in Srumbung, but at the same time local wisdoms also is a living foundation that will mostly be main pillar to recover the elegies. When Suwaji and Tumirah expressed their self reliant for recovery efforts, Darmono exercises it from the religiosity aspect. The two ends hopefully will meet to comprehensively recover the lives of people in Srumbung. Pictures along with this article are Suwaji, Tumirah, Muslikah and Darmono (Prepared by Abang Rahino for Yakkum Emergency Unit).

Abang Rahino
Jl.Jurugsari III/35, Kaliurang Km 7,3, Yogyakarta 55283, Indonesia, Ph 62-274-668 3701, Cell: 0878 3997 1706

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About oaseindisasters

Oase in Disaster - Yakkum Emergency Unit This blog is official blog of Yakkum Emergency Unit Member of ACT Alliance and Member of Humanitarian Forum of Indonesia. The contents of this blog covers the YEU's activities related to emergency responds activities in Indonesia. Currently, we are working in emergency respon in three different areas; to respond Wasior flash-flood affected people in Manokwari, West Papua, tsunami-Mentawai affected people in Mentawai, West Sumatera, and Merapi Volcano Eruption in Central Java and Yogyakarta. At the national level, we are coordinating within the network of Humanitarian Forum of Indonesia (HFI) and at the International level we're coordinating with Global Network for Disaster Reduction and ACT Alliance. Email: yeu@yeu.or.id Follow us in twitter @yeu2001 www.yeu.or.id www.actalliance.org www.humanitarianforumindonesia.org
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