Jakarta, July 16, 2020 (ANTARA) - The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has cautioned that the COVID-19 pandemic is posing a serious threat to food security and nutrition, and has urged governments and other stakeholders to build more resilient food systems.
As a precautionary measure, the Indonesian Government is developing a
food estate project in Kapuas district and Belanti Siam village in
Pulang Pisau district, Central Kalimantan province, under the National
Strategic Program (PSN), which is to be implemented within the next
In 2020, at least 30 thousand hectares of land will be made available
for the project, and the land size will be expanded over the next two
The President has assigned three ministers — Defense Minister Prabowo
Susanto, Public Works and Public Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono,
and State Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir — to implement the program,
with the support of other ministers.
The Ministry of Defense is leading the program to build food reserves
and will be responsible for boosting resilience for food security.
"Yesterday, I told you that the food estate development is being
conducted in response to an FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization)
warning of a global food crisis. Hence, we need to take precautionary
measures quickly by preparing strategic food reserves," President Joko
Widodo (Jokowi) told the press on July 13, 2020.
Jokowi has justified his decision to task the Defense Minister with
leading the implementation of the national food estate program.
"Defense does not only concern 'alutsista' (primary weaponry defense
system), but also boosting resilience in the food sector, which is part
of it (national security). The Defense Minister has already submitted
the cost calculations and the amount of budget required to develop a
food estate in Kapuas and Pulang Pisau," Jokowi said.
"The Minister of Agriculture will back it (the project). Other
agricultural and food related matters still come under the authority of
the Agriculture Minister," Jokowi noted.
The food estate is not meant as a rice field opening program, but refers
to the development of a food center, explained Dahnil
Anzar Simanjuntak, spokesperson for the Defense Minister.
The food estate will serve as a center for agricultural and strategic
logistical reserves, which are crucial for supporting national defense.
Besides rice, centers of other crops, such as cassava and corn, will
also be developed, depending on land conditions, the Defense Minister’s
As a strategic logistics reserve that is necessary to support national
defense, the food estate will assist the Ministry of Agriculture and the
National Logistics Agency, if there is a disruption in food supply at
any time, he explained.
The food estate will be used to develop national food reserves, which would be distributed across Indonesia when needed.
The Defense Ministry has been tasked by President Joko Widodo to
implement the program to build the food estate in accordance with Law
No. 3 of 2002 on National Defense.
Article 6 of the law states, "State defense is carried out through
efforts to build and foster the capability of the deterrent power of the
state and nation, and to overcome any threats."
"We at the Ministry of Defense understand that the threats consist of
military, non-military, and hybrid threats," the spokesperson said.
Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto had
earlier said that the food estate program is sustainable and will
benefit the nation.
The agriculture intensification program will cover 10,594 hectares of transmigration area in 55 villages.
To support the program, the Public Works and Public Housing (PUPR)
Ministry plans to redesign the irrigation network over 165 thousand
hectares of land in Central Kalimantan, according to Minister Basuki
"The potential area reaches some 295,500 hectares. Some 165 thousand
hectares of the area has already been prepared as an irrigated paddy
field, of which only 85,500 hectares was utilized as productive land. We
want to intensify production in 57,200 hectares (ha) of the productive
land," he expounded.
"Last week, we had visited the area along with wetland experts. The
59,200 hectares of productive land had only produced 1.7-2.9 tons of
rice per hectare," he pointed out.
The minister opined that the low productivity was owing to an
inefficient irrigation system that hindered the flow of water and
optimal fertilizer absorption, coupled with recurrent flooding in the
The rehabilitation project, to be conducted in stages from 2020 to 2022,
will cover an area of 1,210 ha in 2020, 33,335 ha in 2021, and 22,655
ha in 2022. A budget of Rp497.2 billion has been allocated for the
Hadimuljono highlighted the significance of food resilience as part of
non-military defense. To this end, the Defense Minister will mobilize
youth, with expertise in the fields of computer and agriculture, he
The PUPR Ministry had earlier targeted to revive 165 thousand hectares
of land as a food estate in Central Kalimantan from 2020 to 2022 as part
of a bid to build national food resilience.
The food estate is expected to reach optimum production by 2022, according to the PUPR Minister.
The government has decided to develop the food estate in Pulang Pisau
district in Central Kalimantan province at the site of a failed
mega-peatland development project (PLG).
The PLG project, launched by the late president Suharto in 1995 as a
means to guarantee Indonesia's rice self-sufficiency, devastated a huge
area of peat-swamp forests in the province.
The State Enterprises Ministry and Agriculture Ministry will now jointly develop a food estate on the site.
The PUPR Ministry will develop basic facilities, including revitalizing
the irrigation system, while the State Enterprises Ministry and the
Agriculture Ministry will develop farming technology to boost
Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo said the food estate program will use modern farming technology.
President Jokowi has expounded that the land identified for the food
estate project is not a peatland, but contains alluvial soil, so the
project would not be detrimental to the environment.
The environmental impact of the project has, in fact, become a concern for several parties.
Syarief Hasan, a senior politician of the Democratic Party and deputy
chairman of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), recently urged the
government to reconsider its food estate program in Central Kalimantan.
"The government has decided to develop the food estate program in the
former Peat Land Development (PLG ) area in Central Kalimantan. The area
was once developed during the Soeharto administration, and it only
caused environmental damage and a state loss," Syarief Hasan said
Quoting the results of a study by the Agricultural Technical Science of
the University of Gadjah Mada, Hasan said the soil in the area has
degraded in the last 25 years, and it does not have ability to support
optimal plant growth.
He urged the government to make a thorough and comprehensive study by involving experts and academicians.
Hasan is also of the view that the Defense Minister has a heavier task
than developing the food estate program, namely developing the domestic
defense industry and strengthening the national defense system, amid the
tensions between China and the United States in the South China Sea,
which shares a maritime border with Indonesia's North Natuna Sea.
Besides, the Agriculture Ministry should be leading the food estate
program because it is the most relevant ministry to strengthen the
nation’s food resilience, he opined. (INE)
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