Tue, 14 Dec 2010

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian government has invited Malaysia to develop food estates to boost national rice production.

The statement was made by Agriculture Minister Suswono here Monday when briefing the First Joint Committee Meeting on Agriculture Cooperation between Indonesia and Malaysia in Bandung on December 13, 2010.

The ministerial meeting was attended by Agriculture Minister Suswono and Malaysian Minister of Agriculture and Industry Noh Omar at Hotel Grand Preanger in Bandung.

The agriculture minister said while the Indonesian government gave Malaysia a chance to develop domestic food estates, but not by using the existing farmland.

"We told them if they wanted to make an investment by developing food estates they first have to open new farmland. The existing farmland is used only to meet the domestic need for foodstuff," he said.

He said that the results of the food estates developed by Malaysia will be oriented to meet the export market, but first to meet domestic needs.

"If self-supporting has been achieved and production has reached a surplus, exports can follow," Suswono said.

He said besides Malaysia, the Indonesian government will also invite Brunei Darussalam to make an investment in the agriculture sector in Indonesia.

In the meantime, in the First Joint Committee Meeting on Agriculture Cooperation between Indonesia and Malaysia in Bandung on December 13, 2010, which was also the second Technical Working Group and the second Senior Officials Meeting, some cooperation had been reached in the agricultural sector between the two countries.

Basically, the minister said, the cooperation between the two countries is directed to the main activity of increasing the institutional capacity of medicinal drugs, spices and horticulture and post-harvest handling of horticultural commercial commodities.

In addition, research for rice crops, maize and orchids, and improvement of livestock trade, especially transnational cooperation and phytosanitary is also needed, he said.

The minister also said that the basis of the bilateral cooperation between Indonesia and Malaysia in agriculture had been contained in an MoU signed by the Indonesian agriculture minister and the Malaysian agro-based agricultural and industrial cooperation in Kuala Lumpur on February 26, 2009.

The ministerial meeting will also be followed up by a similar meeting in Sabah, Malaysia, in 2011. (*)