Tue, 04 Sep 2007
Surabaya (ANTARA News) - The government has set itself the target of earmarking a total of 30 million hectares of land in the country as permanent farmland which cannot be turned into land for other purposes, Agriculture Minister Anton Apriyantono said.

"To date, Indonesia only has about 7.4 million hectares of farmland. We hope we can have a total of 30 million hectares of permanent farmland in the future," he said after delivering a speech at a meeting here Monday.

Some 15 million hectares out of the 30 million hectares of permanent farmland would be used as irrigated paddy fields and the remaining 15 million hectares as dry paddy fields, he said.

The minister, however, could not say when the target would be reached but said the government and the House of Representatives (DPR) were still formulating a bill on the classification of permanent farmland.

The proposed law would hopefully reduce the increasing conversion of farmland into land for other purposes due to rapid population growth and economic development.

"Around 150,000 hectares of farmland is being turned into estates for non-agricultural purpose every year," he said.

Meanwhile, legislator Bomer Pasaribu said under the permananet farmland classification bill which could be passed into law late this year or early next year, fines would be imposed on people who turned land designated for farming into land for other purposes.

If Indonesia could not stop the practice of turning farmland into land for other purposes, the country would eventually become entirely dependent on imports in meeting its need for agricultural products, Bomer, a former manpower minister, said.(*)



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