Thursday, 10 July 2014


Industry and property development in Indonesia has eroded productive agricultural lands. Consequently, Indonesia lost more wetland, and national food security is threatened. Data from the Ministry of Agriculture stated that Indonesia loses 80,000 - 100,000 hectares of rice fields per year because the government’s ability to create land could not balance the conversion of agricultural land into non-agricultural land. Conversion of agricultural land, which is increasingly worrisome, was due to lack of partiality to the agricultural sector, land fragmentation, and weak law enforcement.

Director of Irrigation Water Management of Directorate General of Agricultural Infrastructure and Facilities at the Ministry of Agriculture, Tunggal Iman Panudji, in Jakarta, on Tuesday (June 24) recorded that in 2013 Indonesia has a wetland of 8.13 million hectares, dry land of 18.58 million hectares, and plantation 18.93 million hectares, which has the potential to continue to decrease due to conversion to residential areas or plantations. Outside Java, approximately 48.6% of wetlands are converted to plantation, while in Java most of are converted to plantations, while in Java most of the agricultural land (58.7%) is converted to residential areas.

This is worsened by the quality of the newly created rice fields which is only on third of the quality of the existing rice fields, as well as the lack of certainly of spatial planning. Of a total of 491 local government, there are 347 neighborhoods (RT/RW) that have been defined, but only 160 regional regulations that stipulate sustainable agricultural land for food farming (LP2B). To that end, he asked the regental/city government who not yet completed regional Regulation to first prepare a Regent or mayor Regulation in order to maintain the wetlands.

On the other hand, the ability to create wetlands is only 40,000 hectares/year, due limited budget. Even more worrisome, he said, is that the conversion of productive agricultural lands is unstoppable due to weak commitment of local governments. Because of that, he lamented the regents and mayors who did not issue regional regulations to protect productive agricultural land. According to him the authority to protect agricultural land is in the hand of the mayors and the regents.

According to Tunggul, the solution to boost productivity of agricultural crops is by creating farming technology. Agricultural innovation and technology from the Ministry of Agriculture’s Research & Development, academicians and private sectors, such as the National Week activities of the National Outstanding Farmers and Fishermen Association (Penas), people need to be introduced to keep them enthusiastic to do farming business. It is important to remember that the young generation now has lack of interest in farming, so that cost of farm workers becomes expensive. He pointed out that “Jajar Legowo” planting technology is proven to increase the productivity of rice crops from 5 tons per hectares to 8 tons per hectare.

He said that his party is targeting the creation of wetland of 50.000 hectares in 2014 with the consideration that it has the nearest water source. To create wetland is not just opening wetland alone, but it requires a study. He said that the potential to create wetland is not easy now. The reason is that vacant land for rice farming is increasingly scare and limited due to land conversion. However he believed that farmers need not worry about lack of wetland due to agricultural budget saving, they will be provided with great opportunities to create wetlands.

Admittedly, the problem of limited agricultural lands is due to lack of suitable land, conversion to non-agricultural land, paddy fields demanded for non-agricultural activities and fragmentation. This is because agricultural land is very easy and cheap to be converted to industrial or residential areas. He said that to date, agricultural land and plantations are still about one third of the total land area in Indonesia, while two-third of it consist off forests. This makes agriculture development difficult. (E)

Business News - June 27, 2014

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