THE SAWAH TAMBAK RICE-FISH TERRACE SYSTEM OF JAVA

LOCATION | Java, Indonesia

TYPOLOGY | Aquafarming
SYSTEM | Sawah Tambak
PEOPLE | Javanese

The coastal lowland areas of the tropical province of East Java, surrounded by seas to the north, east and south, fluctuates continuously between drought and deluge. This strong experience of seasonality, along with poor soils composed of marine clay, makes any form of agriculture difficult. To overcome these difficult conditions, farmers in the regencies of Lamongan and Gresik have developed a unique terracing system called the Sawah Tambak that simultaneously cultivates rice and fish. In the eighties, this system was practised on sixteen and a half thousand hectares of land and yielded thirty five thousand tonnes of fish. Specifically designed to perform at an elevation of only one to two meters above sea level, today this system yields the highest of the rice-fish culture systems in Indonesia, with twelve and a half thousand freshwater rice-fish farms supporting fifteen thousand households. Recently, the systems expanded to other areas of East Java, including the basins of the Brantas and Solo Rivers.

Illustrations by Despo Thoma

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