Jambi (ANTARA) - The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted people's way of living, socially and economically.

The government, from the central level down to the village level, has made efforts to expedite the handling of COVID-19's impact, whether in the form of health assistance or economic recovery.

Several forms and types of aid have been distributed by the government to people impacted economically by the pandemic. The aid has been distributed to individuals or groups, such as micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

Of the different sectors that make up the nation's economy, the farming sector has not been significantly affected by the pandemic.In fact, the farming sector recorded positive growth throughout the pandemic.

Thus, the farming sector could well spur economic growth amid COVID-19.

Jambi province has made the farming sector a primary sector in order to recover the economy of the region.

Governor of Jambi, Al Haris, explained that most of Jambi's territory covers farming land, which has provided a big opportunity for economic growth for Jambi during the pandemic.

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Increasing production

The government of Jambi province is currently making an effort to raise farming production in every region.

As part of this effort, aid has been provided in the form of facilities and infrastructure to individual farmers and farmers' groups.

The Jambi provincial government has distributed aid in the form of seeds, harvesting devices, and cash through its Food, Horticultural, and Livestock Service to improve farm yields.

The aid has been adjusted with the types of crop grown in each region, Al Haris informed. Not all regions are cultivating the same crops since not all regions are geographically similar, he said.

For instance, in Kerinci district, the type of crops grown dominantly are vegetables, such as potatoes, carrots, mustard greens, cabbages, red chilis, as well as tea and coffee.

These type of crops are well suited for Kerinci district since the district is located in a hilly area with cold weather conditions, Al Haris said.

Meanwhile, West Tanjung Jabung district predominantly has rice fields since most of the land in the area is a peatland, which is suitable for rice cultivation.

Crops grown in Batanghari district include palm oil, rubber, kale, cucumber, bitter melon, long beans, red chili, cayenne pepper, and rice.

Economic opportunity

While it has brought challenges, the COVID-19 pandemic has also created an economic opportunity for the people of Batanghari district in Jambi.

The COVID-19 pandemic has served as a chance to improve the growth of people's economy through the farming sector, Batanghari district head M Fadhil Arief said.

This is due to the fact that 80 percent of the people's income comes from the farming sector, whether from food crop cultivation, horticulture, or plantation, he added.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the sale value of Batanghari district's primary commodities, namely palm oil and rubber, has experienced a significant increase, he said.

The price of a fresh fruit bunch (FFB) of palm oil in Batanghari is ranging from Rp2,000 to Rp2,300 per kilogram, its highest level in the last five years, he informed.

Meanwhile, rubber price is ranging between Rp10 thousand to Rp13 thousand per kilogram, which is also the highest it has reached in the last five years in the region, he added.

The increased demand for those crops has benefited the region's farmers, Arief said. The regional government is trying to make use of the opportunity to improve farming production, he added.

This year, Batanghari's government has been trying to strengthen the farming sector through efforts such as mentorship and counseling for all of the villages in the region, he informed.

The regional government has also decided to improve the facilities and infrastructure for farming land by expanding the irrigation network.

Farming downstreaming

In addition to improving farming production, the government of Jambi province is also encouraging the downstreaming of farming products.

Governor Al Haris has instructed institutions to facilitate the purchase of Jambi's farm produce.

The produce yielded by farms will be used to provide aid to people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

At every instance when the Jambi government provides food aid to people impacted by COVID-19 pandemic, the food will be obtained through Jambi's farming sector, he added.

Through this pattern, both farmers and the people can mutually benefit each other: farmers' production can be accommodated and the people can receive aid from farmers, he explained.

Meanwhile, in the long term, farm produce from Jambi is planned to be exported both domestically and internationally, Al Haris said.

Jambi's farm exports have shown an upward trend in 2021, he informed.

Iqfast data from Jambi's Farming Quarantine Office indicates that the export value of Jambi's farm commodities reached Rp3.48 trillion in the January-July 2021 period, an increase of 55.73 percent compared to exports of Rp2.24 trillion recorded in the corresponding period of 2020.

In 2022, the government of Jambi province will target to increase the region's farming exports by threefold.

At the moment, Jambi's farm exports are still in the low category. This is due to the fact that not all of the farming commodities are being exported.

Thus far, exporters have been directly visiting farms to buy produce from farmers.

As a result, the selling price for Jambi's farm produce has become unstable and has at times been categorized as quite low.

In August 2021, Jambi's Farming Quarantine Office exported farm products worth Rp141.82 billion to eight countries through the Freedom Export event.

The farm commodities that were exported included areca nuts, slab rubber seeds, palm shells, coconut, and meranti wood.

To this end, the government of Jambi province needs to facilitate farm exports through related institutions so that the selling price of farming products remains stable and their export value rises.

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Translator: Muhammad Hanapi, Fadhli R
Editor: Sri Haryati
Copyright © ANTARA 2021