03 January 2012

Indonesia takes steps to increase rice production amid climate change

Indonesia is taking steps to increase rice production amid ongoing climate change, Agriculture Minister Suswono said here on Monday

Xinhua | Jan. 2, 2012

"We have strategies to face climate change. If we face prolonged rainy season, we need more rice driers to maintain our production quality. If we face prolonged drought, we will optimize irrigation and pumping instruments," said Suswono, adding that the ministry will use contingency fund for the purpose.

He said that to maintain production, his ministry will deploy superior seed that is adaptive to climate change. "There are superior seeds for prolonged rainy season and for prolonged drought," said Suswono. He added that as climate change triggers increasing plant diseases, the ministry is preparing resistant-rice plant.

In the longer term, he said, the government is targeting to reach surplus target of 10 million tons of rice by 2014. "Starting this year, we target to create new rice field of 100, 000 hectares while state-run companies focusing on agriculture will create another 100,000 hectares," he said.

He said that the new rice fields are aimed to balance reducing ones in the main Java Island that keeps declining every year. "Based on land audit in 2010, Java Island only leaves 3.5 million hectares of rice field, whereas several years before, it still stood at 4 million hectares," he said.

Vice Agriculture Minister Rusman Heriawan said that actually, productivity intensification is better than extending rice field. "In intensification, we can optimize many instruments that could be used. For example, better distribution of seed and fertilizer will play significant role. We could also optimize the role of agricultural surveillance staffs," he said.

Meanwhile, he said, the new rice field should be maintained and upgraded before generating result. "When we create new paddy fields this year, it does not automatically generate yields this year," he said.

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