Wed, 15 Dec 2010

Bogor, West Java (ANTARA News) - The government has expressed its optimism that its "Food Estate" program to be developed in Merauke, Papua, would be successful and become the solution of future food security in the country.

"We have calculated all aspects from natural resources to human resources, infrastructure and other facilities," agriculture minister Suswono said in his written address to a seminar on food estates held by the ecology faculty of the Bogor Institute of Agriculture here on Tuesday.

A food estate is a concept of food production development which is done integratedly covering agriculture, plantation and animal husbandry in a vast area.

He said Merauke has been considered fit for a large-scale food estate developemnt as it has agricultural land reserves of 2.49 million hectares.

For the food estate development program in Merauke called the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE) a total of 1.6 million hectares of land has been provided.

"For making the concept the agriculture ministry has conducted a lot of discussions involving experts and familiarized it among the local people," he said in a speech read out by the head of the ministry`s research and development, Achmad Suryana.
Merauke itself has so far become one of the agricultural development centers.

"Before there has already been a Merauke Integrated Rice Estate program where agriculture development is being intergrated with animal husbandry and fishery to develop an effective and environmentally friendly farm business.

For the MIFEE a labor-intensive approach would be used like in the people`s nucleus plantation program.

"To suppress risks the management will be split into smaller units involving a lot of farmers but will remain under one management center.

Based upon the pattern the products to be produced would later be processed and marketed by a private party.

"Farmers will also be given an opportunity to take part in the other supporting activities and will have shares," the minister said.

He said the government has had an experience with the program in South Sumatra before but it has failed due to a lack of techincal and human resources support.

The food estate in Merauke in the next five years is expected to be able to create minimally 250,000 hectares of new rice fields to produce an additional 2.5 million tons of unhulled dried rice.

"Later we will strive to increase production minimally four percent to achieve a sustainable food resilience," he said.

The dean of the Bogor Institute`s Economics and Management Faculty, Dr Yusman Syaukat, meanwhile said a lot of factors need to be paid attention to so that the program would be successful.

"Besides technical factors social and economic factors are also important," he said.

Yusman said with regard to social factors he said later the people of Merauke would experience a change in the life style from dispensing to a food-based industry which is initially strange to them.

"Possible problems of land ownership and the marginalized should also be put into consideration," he said.(*)