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Farming the Waters: Java's Blue Revolution
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Farming the Waters: Java's Blue Revolution
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Hydroelectric projects are popular in developing countries. They are clean, renewable sources of energy. But building dams also means flooding valleys and destroying the homes and livelihoods of local people. In Indonesia, a pioneering program is turning this notion on its head, transforming new lakes into lucrative sources of income, and allowing displaced former farmers to become successful fishermen.

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Produced by David L. Brown Productions.

Learn more about the World Bank's Saguling-Cirata reservoir project.

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Segment 1

MRS. LILY [fish farmer]
Before the reservoir, we led the normal lives of rice farmers in this area. Now, since the creation of the Turada Reservoir, our lives are much improved.
MAN
It's a better life now. Before the reservoir we were just simple land farmers. Now, we have a whole new environment.
TITLE
Farming the Waters: Java's Blue Revolution
VOICEOVER
The Citarum River is the lifeblood of millions of Sudanese people in West Java, Indonesia. The river begins in the mountains, near Bandung, the third-largest city in Indonesia, and flows through one of the most densely populated areas of the world ending in the sea near Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. Along the way, the river feeds a complex network of traditional agriculture systems, which integrate rice paddies, waterfowl, and fishponds. Over the last 30 years, three dams have been built on the Citarum River. These dams provide about 1,500 megawatts of new electricity to the island of Java in Indonesia, home of the world's fourth-largest population. The new hydropower dams have brought cheap electricity to millions of urban residents and a secure source of drinking and irrigation water to countless rural people. And yet the costs of the dams have not been equally shared by urban and rural people. Increased dam construction has created enormous social and environmental problems. Large numbers of people have lost their homes, their lands, and their livelihoods. In the case of the Saguling and Cirata dams in West Java, the lives of over 100,000 people were disrupted. Population densities in villages around the new reservoirs, already among the highest in the world before the dams, increased two- to three-fold. Yet today in the economically developing countries, much like the industrialized countries decades earlier, the pace of dam construction speeds ahead due to increased demands for electricity and water. Hydropower is viewed by many as a clean energy source, a more appropriate alternative to nuclear power. But it raises many questions, especially about the people displaced by the dams. In the past and throughout the world, reservoirs created by the dams have seldom been used for restoring the income of the displaced people. In many cases the reservoirs became choked with weeds and refuse, breeding new diseases. Invariably the displaced people viewed the new lake as an unwanted newcomer. But something extraordinary happened in the Saguling and Cirata reservoirs in West Java. A new idea was proposed for the use of the reservoirs and for the resettlement of the local people.
SCOTT GUGGENHEIM, PhD [anthropologist, The World Bank]
In the crowded countries of Asia -- Bangladesh, Indonesia, China, and India -- there isn't an enormous amount of land that you could just transfer to the resettlers. You need to find new ways to provide productive assets to the resettlers. And in this case we have what's clearly a unique approach by taking the main resource, which is water, and making it into something that produces even more than the land that was taken away to build the dam. That's special.
VOICEOVER
In these reservoirs, a type of aquatic farming system know as floating cage aquaculture was developed. In this system, fish are grown in nets supported by bamboo and floated at the water's surface by recycled oil drums. This video documents how cage aquaculture and a planned approach to reservoir fisheries development helped the displaced people in Indonesia to dramatically increase their standard of living. Mrs. Lily is an owner and operator of fish cages in the Cirata reservoir. Her entire family was displaced by the reservoir and received compensation, as well as training in cage aquaculture.
MRS. LILY
Before the reservoir we had only a small shop and we were rice farmers with a production of only five tons per harvest. Now with these floating fish cages we can harvest 10 tons of fish per month, and in one month I sell 300 to 350 tons of fish feed. Since we began working in cage aquaculture, we've been able to send our children to school, to go to Mecca, and to buy goods I could never afford before, like a car. And I've opened a store to sell fish feed. All of this is from the money we've made from fish sales. We've bought a home and have used the money we've earned to develop more fish cages and to invest in this business. The resettled people I know from the same village have all moved here and they're prospering in their lives. Their lives are much better and all the children are going to school. People have built much better homes than their previous ones in the former village.
SCOTT GUGGENHEIM
We're creating larges bodies of water. This water can support fish. Fish are worth a lot of money, they're part of people's diets, they need them in the cities, they're a tremendous resource, they have a high price. We're creating the asset in front of our eyes, and it's not being used. That's what makes this case so interesting. When we look at Cirata, when we look at Saguling, we see something we see virtually nowhere else in Southeast Asia in terms of resettlement. We see a unique and wonderful solution for resettlement: fish.
PEPEN EFFENDI [Fisheries Manager, West Java Provincial Fisheries Service]
From the research results from Padjadjaran University, total crop production from farmers in the flooded areas before the Saguling reservoir was about 2 billion rupiah [IDR] each year. After switching to fisheries occupations, the total former gross income for 1993 reached 16.5 billion rupiah. So there was an eight-fold increase from before the project.
BARRY COSTA-PIERCE, PhD [Professor, Aquatic Biology and Fisheries, Minnesota State University]
At the end of 1993, in that year, Saguling produced 8,300 tons of freshwater fish from floating net cage aquaculture. If we translate this to the surface area of Saguling, this makes Saguling the world's most productive aquatic environment.
VOICEOVER
The aquaculture developments in Indonesia were funded by the World Bank and the government of Indonesia as part of a loan package for dam construction at Cirata. They were the first attempt ever to resettle large numbers of displaced people in aquaculture occupations using the water surface of newly created reservoirs.
SCOTT GUGGENHEIM
I can't emphasize strongly enough how much the [World] Bank supports this approach to resettlement. Cases like Cirata and Saguling are so valuable because they provide a way to reconcile the costs and the benefits. From a developing country perspective, they're also extremely useful examples because the [World] Bank can support virtually 100 percent of all the costs it takes to finance aquaculture.
VOICEOVER
In the mid-1980s, resettlement experts at the World Bank began to ask if cage aquaculture could be used not only to help solve the problem of involuntary resettlement but also to help restore the incomes of the displaced farmers. Farmers in West Java have traditionally combined land and water farming systems in complex ways. They have practiced aquaculture in backyard ponds and integrated fishponds with gardens and animals.
BARRY COSTA-PIERCE
One of reasons for the extraordinary success of the floating fish cages in Saguling and Cirata has been than the fact that West Java is a fisheries culture. The people know as much about growing fish as they know about growing any other land-based farm animal. They mix agriculture and aquaculture together in traditional systems in order to meet the pressing demands of their high population densities, and they've done this since ancient time.
T. ASIKIN [Director, West Java Provincial Fisheries Service]
This success is not only due to the fisheries culture of the farmers and fishermen, it's also because they're extremely innovative, clever, and very responsive to new technologies.
VOICEOVER
Rice fields are used simultaneously as fish nurseries. Small fish -- fish fingerlings -- are harvested from rice fields and sold to farmers to stock their cages in the reservoirs.
PEPEN EFFENDI
Rice-fish culture gives a number of benefits to traditional rice farmers. The high profits enable them to better manage the costs of rice farming. The fish actually pay for the costs of rice farming. The fish produced from rice-fish culture can increase the production of rice from 5 to 15 percent beyond the rice yield without the fish.
VOICEOVER
The growth in rice-fish culture in West Java has not only benefited farmers but also the environment.
BARRY COSTA-PIERCE
Since you cannot put pesticides in rice fields where there's fish, or you'll kill the fish, we've seen a dramatic decrease in the use of pesticides in these fields. Plus, an additional benefit is that these fish act as little pigs, stirring up the soil. They go and they burrow into the bottom of the soil and they move up all the nutrients that's been locked in the soil in these rice paddies. So you actually, when you put fish in rice, you use less fertilizer and less pesticides.
VOICEOVER
Growing fish in bamboo cages was first practiced in rivers in West Java in the 18th century. Cage aquaculture in rivers may have evolved from the practice of keeping fish in woven bamboo baskets in canals at fish markets so that they would remain alive and command premium prices. While Indonesian farmers have traditionally used cages to raise fish in irrigation canals and rivers, the use the floating cages and lakes and reservoirs was a new idea. In the early 1980s scientists at Padjadjaran University in Bandung, Indonesia proposed that this concept -- developing floating fish cages in the reservoirs -- could create numerous new jobs.
SUTANDAR ZAINAL [Professor of Aquaculture, Padjadjaran University]
Reservoir fisheries of this type were relatively new to Indonesia. We didn't know at the beginning what type of fish to develop, or what technology was needed here. We then studied what kinds of systems have been developed in other countries, especially the southern nations of Asia like the Philippines and Thailand, where reservoir fisheries are fairly well-developed, and other countries like Nepal which have developed cage aquaculture in reservoirs. We then adopted and modified these systems to conditions found in Indonesia.
VOICEOVER
An international partnership was formed between Padjadjaran University, the Indonesian Directorate General of Fisheries, and ICLARM, International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management in the Philippines. Together these institutions did applied research in floating cage aquaculture and developed village-based participatory programs to train farmers.
BARRY COSTA-PIERCE
There was a substantial amount of national and international cooperation in this project. Within Indonesia, a government fisheries department, a state electric company, and a university work together for the first time. These joined together with ICLARM, an international fisheries organization in the Philippines. And ICLARM provided the resources so that members of the Indonesian team could travel to other Asian countries in kind of a south-south technology transfer to look at existing technologies. These were then brought back from Nepal, Philippines, and Thailand, and adapted to the Indonesian situation. This level of national and international cooperation is an example to others who want to develop such reservoir cage aquaculture operations in the future.

Segment 2

VOICEOVER
The role of the Indonesian state electric company, PLN [Perusahaan Listrik Negara], was critical. PLN granted the displaced people exclusive rights over the use of the water surfaces of the reservoirs. The Indonesian Fisheries Directorate also played a key role. It established a special technical unit to oversee the development of cage aquaculture in both reservoirs.
T. ASIKIN
The government developed the Cirata and Saguling reservoirs with the idea that people would benefit from them. The development of the fisheries in these reservoirs is for the people in the area. It's not permitted for outsiders to be involved.
VOICEOVER
The West Java provincial government passed legislation establishing a permitting process to control the number of cages. Each family was limited to four cages to ensure that the carrying capacities of the reservoir environments were not exceeded.
PEPEN EFFENDI
The development of fisheries in the Saguling and Cirata reservoirs began with Saguling in 1986. It began with farmer training sessions as part of our plan to prepare the farmers to begin the professional fisheries. For common carp, the price of seed has increased steadily. The feed for common carp is currently twice as much as the feed for Nile tilapia and the demand for common carp may be decreasing, while the demand for Nile tilapia is growing. So many farmers are beginning to choose Nile tilapia over common carp.
VOICEOVER
Village schools were developed to teach reservoir aquaculture methods to displaced farmers and their families. These schools served as centers of farming innovation, where farmers could interact informally with their peers and with experts in developing aquaculture technologies.
PEPEN EFFENDI
The success of the fisheries in both the Saguling and Cirata reservoirs occurred mainly because we followed a plan from the beginning. Although people lost their livelihoods and had to move when the water levels rose, there was a technology ready for them that was appropriate for their situation.
VOICEOVER
Low-cost models for floating cage aquaculture were developed using nets and bamboo, wire, nails, and rope, and with or without recycled oil drums for flotation. A typical cage produced up to two tons of fish in just three to four months, and cost less than US$300 to construct. Even less expensive models were also developed and demonstrated. Illustrated guidebooks in the local language were produced to educate farmers about various aquaculture options. Mr. S and his family were displaced by the Saguling reservoir and received training in aquaculture.
MR. S
My feelings are that fish farming is great. We get quick results. When I grew cassava I had to wait one year to get money. Now that I grow fish, I can sell them in a few months. It's also much harder as a land farmer than as a fish farmer, much harder. When I grew cassava as a land farmer, I worked from early morning to noon before I took my first break. It's a better life as a water farmer.
VOICEOVER
Fish cage aquaculture is very profitable and the markets for freshwater fish in West Java are enormous. The province has a population of 35 million people and fish comprise about 70 percent of their total animal protein consumption. Mrs. Noorhani and Mrs. Nangsi own a restaurant in Bongas village near a bay of the Saguling reservoir with hundreds of fish cages. They come to the cages every week to buy fish.
WOMEN
Can we have 10 kg of live fish in a plastic bag with oxygen? It's a better situation for us now. Fish are cheaper. Before it was difficult to catch or buy fish. Now they're available whenever you want: at night or in the afternoon.
VOICE
Today we're at the Cisaat Sukabumi Fish Market, which is about an hour outside of the reservoirs in Saguling and Cirata. There's about 20 tons of freshwater fish coming through this market every single day. About 50 percent of this fish is coming from these reservoirs. So this market is a very important way of getting fish in and out to the small communities throughout West Java.
VOICEOVER
The most preferred fish in West Java is ikan mas, or common carp. Aquaculture of this fish requires that the nursery phase of its lifecycle take place on land in ponds. As a result, the entire enterprise of growing common carp could not be made fully floating within the reservoir and still required precious land. A fish known as tilapia was introduced to the farmers. Tilapia are inexpensive to feed, grow quickly, and can be reproduced directly in floating cages. Introduction of tilapia initiated a whole new suite of successful small-scale businesses that did not require land-based hatcheries or rice field nurseries. As a bonus, the tilapia were found to eat noxious blue-green algae that sometimes fouled the reservoir. The cages have had a multiplier effect on the village and local economies. It has been estimated that for every direct job in the cages, there are three jobs created in various aquaculture support services.
PEPEN EFFENDI
There is a great deal of business activity connected with the floating fish cages in these lakes. The cages require fingerlings and feeds which require feed mills or feed industries. Also, there must be good transportation for both the feed and the fish. The farmers in Saguling have trucks to transport fish from Saguling to Jakarta and to bring feed from Jakarta to Saguling. And all of these activities have developed because of the new fisheries.
SCOTT GUGGENHEIM
I found, visiting these communities and talking to the farmers ... I can't just say I found it interesting, I found it thrilling. I've looked at resettlement in Latin America, in South Asia, in Africa, and in East Asia, and most of the time the best you can hope for is that people were not badly treated. But that's not what you see here. You see economic development. You see a thriving ... in fact more than a thriving, you see an exploding economy. You see innovation. You see progress. That's what we should be supporting.
VOICEOVER
One important question is still unanswered in these developments: how people can be resettled in the fisheries occupations in such reservoirs.
T. ASIKIN
The Provincial Fisheries Department of West Java had the responsibility for the resettlement fisheries, with the plan to resettle 1,500 families in Saguling and 1,500 in Cirata. Saguling now has 2,400 families involved in fisheries, and Cirata has 2,200 families. So we've exceeded the target.
PEPEN EFFENDI
At present we have just reached about 9,000 total cages. Therefore, 50 percent of the eligible area of the reservoirs still remains to be developed. So, by developing fisheries, we can resettle far more than 1,500 families at each reservoir.
SCOTT GUGGENHEIM
Is the aquaculture that we see at Cirata and Saguling a magic bullet that will solve the problem of dams everywhere in Asia? Obviously it isn't. There's some unique characteristics here. It doesn't solve the resettlement difficulty for everybody affected by these projects. There's no question, this is not the magic solution. On the other hand, it's a successful solution for a large number of people and the principle that made it successful in Cirata and Saguling probably can be applied to many other Asian countries as well.
VOICEOVER
The Indonesian example could be of great value to many countries, especially those with cultural backgrounds in fisheries, with high levels of traditional farming knowledge, and with large market demands for fish. It could also be a model in situations where the political process can establish clear legal tenure over the new aquatic resources for the sole benefit of the displaced people
SCOTT GUGGENHEIM
One of the things that impressed me a lot after visiting the people that were displaced by this dam is the change in how they think about the reservoir that caused their displacement. So often you see a large body of water with the people far away, who basically see it as the agency of their destruction. Here we see that they've taken this large body of water, and it's worth even more than the land that they lost. You see thriving communities virtually in the middle of the lake, and people making two and three times more per hectare out of fish than they ever made out of rice. This is an amazing phenomenon to see in resettlement. It's pretty rare to see in development as a whole, and it is extremely heartening to see development in action caused by this dam.
SUTANDAR ZAINAL
This is an interesting case that can be used by a number of countries that have problems similar to ours. There have been many requests to the electric company, PLN, to study the development and operation of the floating fish cages in these reservoirs. This model for resettlement may be very useful to nations with water resources like ours, especially in Asia and Latin America.
SCOTT GUGGENHEIM
When I went to those villages, the enthusiasm people show for the fisheries is quite striking. It shows that when people are involved in planning and designing the resettlement option, they make it work. It's not just participating in a passive sense. They are the actors. I think this is the only way we can go in the future.
VOICEOVER
These developments in Java demonstrate how the aquaculture resettlement option can used to restore the productive livelihoods of displaced people, and to improve their environment. Where the reservoirs are treated as a dynamic resource, new water farming systems have been developed to create productive economies. People have been able to change from farming the land to farming the waters of the new lakes. This blue revolution in Java holds the promise of better lives for millions of people.
TITLE
[end credits]