Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Agriculture is the main pillar of Aceh Province`s economy, which contributes over 25 percent to the regional gross domestic product, absorbing some 35 percent of the local workforce.

Targeting to become one of the national food barn regions, Aceh has set a rice production target of 2.4 million tons for this year. The Aceh provincial government is also paying serious attention to the local community`s accessibility to food.

Several important factors readied to realize food accessibility include the availability of food reserves and aid to the vulnerable and transient groups.

Hence, the regional government has continued to develop the agriculture sector of Indonesia`s westernmost province, which is located in the western tip of Sumatra Island. This year`s rice production target has been set at 2.4 million tons, yet it is likely to be exceeded.

Head of Aceh`s Plantation and Agriculture Office Hasanuddin Darjo stated that the province`s unhusked rice production in 2017 is estimated to reach 2.6 million tons, or exceed the target set at 2.4 million tons. The unhusked rice was harvested from Aceh`s agricultural area of some 307,410 hectares.

"In connection with the Pajale Special Program (Upsus Pajale) specializing in three food crops of rice, maize, and soybeans in Aceh, there is something encouraging since the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPSA) said that based on its temporary forecast figure, Aceh will be able to produce 2.6 million tons of rice this year," he recently noted in the Blangpidie Sub-district.

Darjo made the statement on the sidelines of a field observation meeting after conducting a maiden planting of rice in a paddy field of Drien Jalo Village, Tangan-Tangan Sub-district, Abdya District, during the 2017-2018 plantation season.

The first rice planting event was also attended by Sumarjo Gatot Irianto, the director general of food crops of the Ministry of Agriculture, along with Agriculture Minister`s expert staffer Mukti Sardjono, Badya District Head Akmal Ibrahim, and other regional and military officials as well as the local farmers.

"God willing, if it does not decrease, then this year Aceh will be able to produce over 2.6 million tons of rice from a paddy field spanning some 307,410 hectares in several districts and cities," he noted.

Darjo expressed hope that the BPS` forecast of 2.6 million tons would be realized, so that Aceh continues to be a national food barn, thereby contributing to the nation through the production of rice, corn, and soybean.

"If we convert that figure by multiplying 2.6 million tons of rice with the price of Rp4,700 per kilogram (kg), we reach the value of Rp12.22 trillion," he explained.

He said the area currently outlined for maize production in the province of Aceh reaches 80 to 100 thousand hectares. It can generate Rp2.5 trillion, and the amount is big for improving the welfare of the people of Aceh.

"Regarding soybeans today, we, in Aceh, continue to strive to carry out the program, as it has been outlined by the agriculture minister, and we are ready to implement it," Darjo remarked.

Rice production has continued to increase since 2013, reaching 1.7 million tons, while in 2014, it reached 1.8 million tons, and in 2015, the figure was recorded at 2.3 million tons, followed by a slight decrease to 2.2 million tons in 2016.

In the meantime, the regional government should continue to improve the irrigation system in order to further boost agricultural production. In the Southeast Asia District, for instance, farmers have sought assistance, as they face several constraints in realizing self-sufficiency in food production.

"So far, we depend on rainfall or the rain-fed system for cultivating our rice fields," Chairman of Prapat Sepakat Village`s Farmers Group Dipop stated at the Southeast Aceh Food Service Office on Monday (Nov 28).

Dipop made the statement during a discussion organized by a survey team of the Faculty of Agriculture of Unsyiah University and the Government of Aceh, which was attended by the chairmen of local farmer groups.

He said all plots of land for food crops, such as those for rice and maize in the district, have been cultivated by farmers, but the paddy fields have yet to be exploited due to the lack of irrigation channels.

In fact, he explained that the irrigation channel is a means of supporting farmers in developing the region`s agricultural potentials, including the need for sufficient water stocks for irrigation every year.

"The source of water is actually abundant, especially during the rainy season, but during the dry season, the water stocks will reduce," he explained.

Ikhsan Sulaiman, head of the study team of the Faculty of Agriculture of the Unsyiah University, stated that the local government should improve the irrigation system in Southeast Aceh in future to reinforce and build food infrastructure.

"The obstacle is irrigation, and after harvest, the constraints include rice drying facilities, especially if there are simultaneous harvest periods, there must be a place for drying," he explained, adding that the other obstacle posed for maize production is infrastructure. The drying place is very limited, he remarked.


Reporter: Andi Abdussalam
Editor: Heru Purwanto
Copyright © ANTARA 2017