Sentani, Jubi – Jayapura’s district government in Papua bolstered its food security program amid the ongoing novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic to fulfill the food requirements of residents in five sub-districts and 139 villages by preparing farmland spanning 700 hectares.
“Local food crops will be planted in those 700 hectares of farmland to boost the residents’ economy,” Head of the Rural People’s Economic Empowerment Unit in Jayapura District Elisa Yarusabra remarked here on Thursday (6/8/2020).
The district government has worked alongside local communities to realize its food security program by offering financial aid to the tune of Rp100 million to every village, he noted, adding that the government had allotted a budget of Rp14 billion for the program.
Yarusabra stated that the district government’s food crops and horticulture office had provided agricultural advisors to assist local farmers in villages.
Despite a steady rise in Indonesia’s population, the country had yet to achieve food security, which by definition is related to “food availability, food access, and food utilization” (USAID 1995 in FAO).
Instead of feeding its people the rice produced by its own farmers, the central government has repeatedly imported rice over the past years to meet the public’s requirements.
This condition has, indeed, posed a grave challenge and does not bode well with Indonesia’s status as one of the world’s top agricultural countries.
Indonesia would be better off not importing rice from countries, including Thailand and Vietnam, on a permanent basis since it would potentially disadvantage local farmers and threaten its national security in the long term.
On April 21, 2020, President Widodo had called on officials to make a precise assessment of Indonesia’s rice stocks.
The president’s directive came on the back of the FAO of the United Nations’ warning of the COVID-19 pandemic triggering a global food crisis.
To enable the Indonesian farmers to optimize the profitable uses of their farmland for supporting the government’s efforts to make the country a food barn, the Ministry of Agriculture has encouraged them to implement an integrated farming method. (*)