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Minister: 'Indonesia to import 2.3m tons rice, sugar this year' AMBARAWA - Once hailed as a self-sufficient rice producing country, Indonesia this year has to import 2.3 million tons of rice, says a top official. Speaking in the cool mountain resort of Ambarawa in Central Java, Minister for the Economy Dorodjatun Kuntjoro-Jakti said that domestic production had failed to match the demand arising from population growth. Indonesia achieved self-sufficiency in primary food commodities in 1983.
"We have to be optimistic that we can reach the same stature in the future," he said in a ceremony to commemorate World Food Day. Dorodjatun said that the government would also put sugar on the import list. "The importation of basic commodities is taken primarily to help the country's poor," he said. Afterward, Dorodjatun handed food aid to the people of Timor Leste through the director of Indonesian World Food Program (WFP), Muhammad Salifin.
The aid, comprising of 45 tons of rice, 10 tons of sugar and 500 packages of instant noodles, was donated by Bulog food agency, Indonesian People's Sugar Cane Farmers Association (APTRI), PT Indofood Sukses Makmur and a charity foundation of the Indonesian Farmers Society. Minister of Agriculture Bungaran Saragih said the people of Timor Leste, which was formerly part of Indonesia, were suffering from severe food shortages. "We feel obliged to help them," he said.
While Indonesia's food supplies could be in better shape, the situation is still better than in the previous decade, when the economic crisis hit the country, Bungaran said. With a population of 210 million people, many with an increased knowledge of nutrition, the demand for a variety of food and quality food has increased, he said. "We must not focus only on increasing production. Although production is still the main component of food supply, we must not neglect the market. Therefore, product development must be followed with promotion and distribution," Bungaran said.
During the ceremony, the government launched a new superior variety of rice seed, called Fatmawati. Research shows that the seed has the capacity to produce an average of 8.6 tons of rice per hectare. The government handed five tons of Fatmawati rice seeds to eight major rice-producing provinces including East Java, Central Java, Yogyakarta, Bali, Lampung, West Nusa Tenggara and South Sulawesi.
The government also provided East Java, Central Java and Yogyakarta with 782 tons of rice. All three provinces have suffered from drought in recent months. By mid August, about 450,000 hectares of farmland had dried up and about 100,000 hectares of land suffered from crop failure on Java island, affecting 250,000 families. The drought also left tens of millions of people with no access to clean water. Nationwide, about 1.2 million people have been affected by the drought.



Posted in Economy @ 25 October 2003 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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