Jakarta (ANTARA News) - A legislator has expressed concern about what he said was the country`s weakening food resilience due to the shrinking area of agricultural land and increasing urbanization in Indonesia.
Dr Bomer Pasaribu of the Golkar Party Faction told a seminar here on Monday that the country`s ability to meet the people`s need for agricultural products had dropped and was decreasing significantly.
He said Indonesia was now facing food scarcities, not because of the absence of food but because of people`s dependence on imports.
Bomer said there was no guarantee that fertile land still available now would continue to exist while the opening of new agricultural land remained limited.
The legislator said the availability of agricultural land was a precondition to the continuing role of the agricultural sector.
In 1993, the number of farmer families was recorded at 20.3 million, which rose to 25 million in 2003. The increase happened both in and outside Java.
Meanwhile, the number of small farmer families who owned or rented less than 0.5 hectares of land, increased by 2 percent per annum. In 1993 the number of such small farmer families stood at 10.8 million and in 2003 it rose to 13.7 million.
"This indicates that the life of farmers in the country is deteriorating because the number of small farmers who own or rent less than 0.5 hectares of land is increasing," Bomer said.
He said the uncontrollable urbanization process also affected agricultural productivity. Urbanization increased from 37.5 percent in 1995 to 40.5 percent in 1998.
The high urbanization rate was reflected in the continuing conversion of agricultural land into urban areas which in Java reached 20 percent.
The shrinking area of agricultural land was accompanied by increasing scarcity of jobs in agriculture, and this triggered migration of rural people to urban areas, he said.
He said Indonesia had to import 1.2 million tons of soybean in 2000 worth about US$275 million, vegetables worth US$62 million and fruit valued at US$65 million.
In the meantime, Indonesia`s population was predicted to reach 300 million in 2030, he said.
"This is creating worries about food scarcities in the future," he added.(*)