Govt Aims to Spend Rp 9t for New Rice Fields in E. Kalimantan
Tunggadewa Mattangkilang. The Jakarta Globe, Jakarta - 11/01/2012
State Enterprises Minister Dahlan Iskan said on Wednesday that the government planned to spend Rp 9 trillion ($981 million) this year to open new rice fields as Indonesia seeks to reduce imports of the staple grain.
This year’s funding would be triple the Rp 3 trillion the government spent last year.
“If the investment climate is conducive with no disruptions, we will go ahead,’’ Dahlan said in Balikpapan at a meeting with East Kalimantan’s district heads.
Dahlan named three state-owned companies to do the job: Pupuk Sriwijaya, a fertilizer company; Sang Hyang Seri, an agricultural seed producer; and Pertani, a rice and corn seed producer.
The minister said the three state-run companies would be tasked with opening rice fields on 100,000 hectares of land in East Kalimatan. Pupuk Sriwijiaya and Pertani will each be in charge of 30,000 hectares of land and SHS will be responsible for 40,000 hectares.
Dahlan said his ministry would spend one month conducting a feasibility study in order to assess the agricultural prospects in East Kalimantan.
“Indonesia is an agrarian country. We should have a state company with a core business of producing rice,’’ Dahlan said, voicing concern over Indonesia’s status as a net importer of the politically sensitive grain.
He said the new rice fields would help the nation to become self-sufficient. Indonesia has been importing from neighboring countries such as Vietnam and Thailand to help secure its rice stocks.
Data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS) have forecast that Indonesia will produce 72 million tons of unhusked rice this year, an increase from the estimated 65 million tons in 2011.
Bulog, the nation’s procurement agency, was granted approval to import as much as 1.9 million tons in 2011, Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Rajasa said in November.
Dahlan warned that failure to boost rice production would lead the country into “trouble.”
“If there is no rice, then [the economy] will falter,’’ he said.
The minister said the government has designated East Kalimantan and Papua provinces to become centers of Indonesia’s food production.
“East Kalimantan is preparing now. But if East Kalimantan proves to be not ready, we can move to other parts,’’ Dahlan added.
The governor of East Kalimantan, Awang Farouk, said several districts in his province were ready to accept Dahlan’s challenge.
He said those already slated to host rice fields included West Kutai, Malinau, East Kutai, Kutai Kartanegara, Tana Tidung and Nunukan districts.
Awang said East Kalimantan was working to improve irrigation and other related infrastructure projects needed to get the new rice plots up and running, though the governor did not go into specifics.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has said the government aims to have Indonesia producing a net surplus of 10 million tons of rice annually by 2014, a goal that would require annual output growth of 7 percent.