Thu, 03 Mar 2011

From: Reuters

JAKARTA, INDONESIA - Indonesia plans to build this year a new food estate for growing rice and rearing cattle in Aceh province on Sumatra island, chief economics minister Hatta Rajasa said on Wednesday, in a move to bolster food security amid rising commodities prices.

The government last August launched a 350,000-500,000 hectares (864,900-1.24 million acres) food estate project in Papua in eastern Indonesia, part of which will be allocated for soybean production.

"It will be for rice, cattle, cow. We don't know the size now but for a food estate it will be huge," Rajasa told reporters after chairing a ministerial meeting on food security.

He did not provide further details.

Indonesia, which aims to be self-sufficient in rice production, expects a surplus of 10 million tonnes of the grain in the next five to 10 years and the government will try opening up 2 million hectares of land from now until 2014, said Rajasa.

The country has imported 1.4 million tonnes of rice from October until March 1 and will not import more of the staple, he added.

The Indonesian statistics agency's first crop forecast for this year of 67.31 million tonnes of unmilled rice was below the agriculture minister's December expectation of 68.8 million tonnes.

But it was above last year's estimated output of 66.41 million tonnes.

Domestic rice production is expected to grow by 5 percent in 2011, said deputy agriculture minister Bayu Krisnamurthi.