"We have numerous challenges, and foremost among these is the increasing population. The acreage of rice fields continues to shrink while we need a two-fold increase in food production," Jusuf Kalla said while addressing a World Food Day anniversary celebration in Ogan Ilir District, South Sumatra, on Saturday.
In the face of these challenges, the Vice President said, the government and all stakeholders in the food sector need to apply technology in order to increase food production.
He pointed out a number of key factors that could help the government achieve its food self-sufficiency program, namely good seeds, availability of adequate water, efficient agricultural tools and agricultural research technology.
"One of the ways to improve the welfare of farmers is to increase their productivity. If prices are raised, then that is not the correct way. Neither is increasing area of agricultural land correct because doing so would require us to cut down forests. So, we need good research and good seeds," Kalla noted.
The government is also facing a challenge to provide quality food to the people. "Twenty years ago, it would not have mattered if the color of rice was yellowish. But now, all the consumers will protest if the rice was of such quality (with yellowish color)," the Vice President remarked.
He said the other challenge was the peoples demand for varied food commodities. "Rice consumption has been declining every year but wheat import is on the rise. There is a change in consumption pattern," asserted Kalla.
The Vice President said free trade is another challenge in food commodities. Therefore, the government should maintain rice price stability because it is in the interest of the public. "In essence, it is better for us to have a big stock than holding a small one," he said when explaining the countrys rice stock in the face of drought and the impact of the El Nino phenomenon.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla is on a working visit to South Sumatra to commemorate the World Food Day at Ogan Ilir district and Jakabaring Sport City Saturday.
World Food Day was observed on October 16 to raise awareness about the challenges of addressing world hunger and inspiring people to become involved in the fight against hunger.
The theme for 2015 is "Social protection and agriculture: Breaking the cycle of rural poverty," which puts the spotlight on the link between ending hunger and food insecurity by enhancing social protection, a key tool in breaking the cycle of poverty.
Vice President Kalla and his entourage left Halim Perdanakusuma airport in Jakarta at 7 am local time, 30 minutes behind their original scheduled time of 6.30 am.
The Air Force VVIP Boeing 737-400, which the Vice President and his entourage boarded, was delayed by 30 minutes because visibility at the Sultan Mahmud Badaruddin II airport in Palembang was only 500 meters at 6.30 am.
However, the Vice Presidents aircraft arrived safely in Palembang at 8 am Western Indonesia Standard Time (WIB).