Mataram canal is one of water ditch made by Mataram kingdom in project called Main Canal of Water System. Other canals projects are Karang Talun (3 km) and Ven der Wijk (17 km). As their names, those canals were constructed for irrigation reason especially on the northern of Yogyakarta so the lands are productive all year long. From those main channel, farmers made smaller ditch to water their sawah and farm lands.
Before the canals constructed, Yogyakarta was a dry land with minimum crops. The irrigation system in that period was only depending on the rain fall for the shortage of water. Rivers and creeks split the Mataram Kingrom area, such as Kali Code, Kali Gajah Wong and Kali Winongo was not enough to rely on. Those rivers are steep, and the positions were like on the bottom of river, while the farms much higher.
East Indies government that ruled over Indonesia in that period built Van der Wicjk channel in 1909 in Moyudan district , Sleman. Van der Wijk was built to water cane plantation to support sugar industries in Madukismo region, Bantul.
Keberadaan saluran ini tidak banyak membantu masyarakat petani Yogyakarta yang berlokasi jauh dari saluran tersebut. Sebagian besar lahan pertanian di Yogyakarta saat itu masih bersifat tadah hujan. Japan could stop Dutch colonialism in the mid of 1940s and start to built various infrastructures to support war especially war against US. Indonesian recognized it as labour work called Romusa.
The Japan labor policy in his colonies was applied, including in Yogyakarta. Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono IX as the king of Mataram tried hard to protect his people from this policy, especially if they should go laboring in other region, so at least they could work as labor in Yogyakarta and they could feel the benefit of their hard work. Maybe as Sri Sultan rememberd advise of Sunan kalijaga, that Mataram would be prosperous if Kali Progo on the west and Kali Opak on the east can be united, he had an idea to build canal that connected both rivers. This idea was accepted by the Japs as it was considered to increase agriculture productivity to support war logistic. In Japanese occupation, Mataram canal stretched 31.2 km and known as Yoshiro canal. As time went by, this canals then called as Selokan Mataram (Mataram canal).
One of the exit canal of Mataram canal is toward Sleman farms. Mataram canal split north of Yogyakarta from west to east, and supported agriculture that those land yielded multiple crops than before. The products increase was because the farms can be planted all year long. Not only farmers, traders also enjoyed the benefit. This created domino effect and moved economy of other sectors. Yogyakarta and surrounding were growing and busier.
Yogyakarta and surrounding were getting more populated. Yogyakarta became popular as city of education. One of the educations clusters was on the border of northern of Yogyakarta and southern of Sleman.
Various universities stand there. At least 90 campuses are lining along Selokan Mataram, especially in Mlati and Depok district. And they influence the growth of services for students from all over Indonesia studying there, such as netcafe, kost, food stalls, and many more. The increasing number of inhabitants, newcomers from different cultural backgrounds and the evolving of non agriculture sectors have made Selokan Mataram alienated. Farmers admit that now their paddy easily attacked by insect and sometimes broken glass hurt their feet while working for the polluted selokan caused by urban growth.