Contrary to previous agricultural reports, certain regions in Indonesia may be ideal for wheat production.
Indonesia has at least 1.5 million hectares of land located in a cool and dry region that may allow wheat cultivation.
"The high altitude lands in Nusa Tenggara Timur, with its seasonal dry winds from Australia, are the most ideal for wheat production," said Risda Yulita, a expert from the Agricultural Ministry, on Tuesday.
She said that potato cultivation, which were previously thought as unfeasible in Indonesia, was proven possible in the end after thorough research.
She said, however, that the country would need to embark on a large-scale wheat cultivation program if it sought to meet local consumption demands of 4 tons per year.
The Agriculture Ministry has been experimenting with four wheat variants -- the Dewata, Timor, Slayar and Nias -- in the high lands of 16 provinces since 2000, said Risda.
"Wheat needs to be cultivated on dry lands with no water, so the most ideal climate for planting would be at the end of the monsoon season or in the early dry season, namely between April and September, particularly between June and August," she said. "Rain destroys wheat crops."
Risda said that even though Indonesia had lands that were ideal for wheat production, the government would need to train peasant farmers to grow wheat.
"Wheat are grown in certain climates that are not favorable for vegetable cultivation, so they should not see wheat as a threat or competition to the more profitable vegetables," she said, adding that more research on wheat crops was necessary.(*)