Sat, 04 Aug 2001

Rice fields in Irian Jaya

JAKARTA (JP): Plans are underway to turn easternmost province Irian Jaya into a new rice-producing region.

Chairman of the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) Widjanarko Puspoyo said on Friday that the agency planned to develop 200,000 hectares of rice paddy fields in the region.

"Irian Jaya has very good land for rice planting," Wijanarko was quoted by Dow Jones as saying.

If the plan materializes, he said, the fields could yield up to 1.6 million tons of rice per year.

Indonesia has a total of 11.5 million hectares of rice paddy fields.

Wijanarko said the agency would ask the House of Representatives to allocate Rp 40 billion to Rp 50 billion (roughly US$4 to $5 million) from the state budget to construct a port in the province to ship rice to Jakarta.

Indonesia, which is one of Asia's top rice consumers, produces more than 50 million tons of rice a year. (hbk)