President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has asked the Ministry of Agriculture to come up with a solution to reduce Indonesia’s dependence on imports of food commodities, such as garlic, sugar, corn, and soybeans.
"I have asked that the issues regarding these items must be resolved -- on garlic, sugar, corn, soybeans, and other commodities that are still imported. These should be noted and designed well in order for us to immediately overcome the challenge," said President Widodo at the State Palace in Jakarta on Monday.
He made the remarks while opening the 2021 National Working Meeting on Agricultural Development.
"We know that Indonesia's population has reached more than 270 million. Therefore, food-related management must be serious; we have to take agricultural development seriously, especially with regard to imported agricultural commodities," he added.
President Jokowi also mentioned a number of food commodities that are still imported in large quantities by Indonesia.
"Be cautious with (imports of) soybeans, corn, sugar, these are still (in) millions of tonnes. With garlic and rice, even though we haven't imported rice for almost 2 years, but I want to see the reality in the field, whether it is true that it can be consistent throughout the years to come," he remarked.
President Widodo also requested that the Ministry of Agriculture refrain from carrying out conventional and monotonous activities from year to year.
"We have to build an area that is on an economic scale, it cannot be small anymore. That is why I urge this food estate to be completed at least this year, which in North Sumatra and in Central Kalimantan will be resolved," he added.
The government is developing Kapuas district and Pulau Pisau district in Central Kalimantan and Humbang Hasundutan district in North Sumatra as food estate locations.
"We will evaluate the problems in the field, (determine) what technology is lacking. Also, (we will focus on) using technology in the food estate because it will be an example. If everything is true, it can be an example, all provinces just come to copy," said the President.
However, he directed that food estates be developed over a large area so as to create an economic scale.
"Soybeans can grow well. Why don't our farmers want to plant them? Because the price is lower than that of imported soybeans. Farmers are told to sell at import prices, and production prices do not meet that, so they must be (grown) in large quantities so that they (farmers can) fight import prices," he said.
The President also directed that the problem of production be resolved as it would require Indonesia to grow a number of food commodities, such as garlic, sugar, corn, soybeans, and other commodities.
President Widodo also asked the Ministry of Agriculture to find a large area of land so that farmers can plant these commodities on a large scale.
"Look for land suitable for soybeans, but not 1-2 hectares, 10 hectares, but 100 thousand, 300 thousand, 500 thousand, 1 million hectares are (what you should be) looking for. The corn business is looking for land that can be planted with corn on a large scale, this will solve the problem," he added.
The President emphasized that the development of the agricultural sector can no longer be carried out in a conventional and routine manner, rather, it requires breakthroughs and innovations.
He said he wants food estate development to be completed this year as that way it can serve as a model for other regions.
“(It needs to be built) on a large scale. It is not effective if we produce a little bit, it will not affect anything with the import," he explained. (Antaranews)