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Overpopulation and agriculture
A small island with few options

A small part of the population profits from the growing tourism, which causes more work and increases the sale of art and other production. The big majority still practices agriculture for own use, and has to deal with water and soil shortages. However the government still aims at birth control, the population density is still extremely high. The number of people in comparison with agricultural soil is even higher on Lombok than on Bali. Transmigration programs (the inhabitants of Lombok were transferred to less populated areas of the archipelago) have somewhat eased the pressure, but the problems are far from solved.

When you talk about illiteracy and number of infant deaths, Lombok still has the highest rate of entire Indonesia. Many schoolchildren are on Islamic schools, where they are thought religion and Arabic, but they are hardly prepared for the demands of a growing economy.

The government has developed over the recent years. Vaccinations against hepatitis B even is accepted in the rural areas. In an effort do reduce the number of cholera-cases the quality of drinking water is improved. Malaria, which formed a big problem in the north, gets more attention as well. The number of clinics with nurses is growing as well.

The health programs are not directly visible to the visitors, other governmental programs are: the electrification of the rural areas, the construction of dams and especially the improved road system. Some roads are meant to bring tourists to their places quickly, others connect remote areas with main roads and markets.

The heart of Lombok, the triangle with it's base in the west and it's top near Pringgabaya in the east, originally is the rice shed of Lombok. The area regularly produces some extra rice. The area has lots of sawah (rice fields) and looks like Jawa and Bali. Due to irrigation projects the number of hectares with sawah is slowly increasing. New fast growing species of rice with a high yield also help increasing production, but the local population favors the taste of the original one. On markets, the old species is kind of expensive.

Due to education and encouragement of the government, most farmers use field-change cultures; they plant soy-beans after one or two rice yields. In the more dry areas, especially in the south of the fertile triangle, most fields are nowadays planted with high-yield tobacco, which is dried in local ovens and sold to a firm which exports to Jawa and foreign countries. Since a decade or so, tobacco is the second most important agricultural export product. The farmers also export areka-nuts, beans, cinnamon, coffee, onions and flowers which are used for medication; since a while also clove, pepper and vanilla.

Last revised on December 14, 2009
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