I believe that Merauke will become the most advanced region in southern Papua when they reach the national food barn status
Jakarta (ANTARA) - Minister of Villages, Development of Disadvantaged Regions, and Transmigration Abdul Halim Iskandar has said he is optimistic that the village fund allocated to Merauke district, Papua will help it transform into a national food barn.

"The village fund could be used to develop the agriculture system and increase farming output in Merauke," Iskandar said in a written statement issued here on Wednesday.

Apart from enhancing farming output, the village fund could also be used to meet villagers' needs, including to develop village-made products, he added.

"If the village needs to enhance its grain production, it could utilize the village fund," Iskandar said.

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Though Merauke, with its 2.5 million hectares of usable land, has the potential to become a national food barn, Papua is not among the seven major rice-producing provinces in Indonesia, the minister observed.

Merauke has the potential to produce 141,764 tons of rice by utilizing just 63,786 hectares of usable land, he said, adding that production will always be surplus because the total demand for rice in Merauke is a mere 25 thousand tons.

"The production surplus could be supplied to other regions, especially regions where rice is the basic food of residents," Iskandar suggested.

The minister said that Merauke could become the most advanced region in Papua if its villages undergo intensive development.

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"I believe that Merauke will become the most advanced region in southern Papua when they reach the national food barn status," he remarked.

Meanwhile, Merauke district head Romanus Mbaraka said that village fund procurement had enhanced village development in his region, despite the fund being mostly used to develop human resources.

"The village fund distribution has gone well, but we need to improve our human resources because the existing resources are minimum," he added.

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Translator: Zubi Mahrofi, Nabil Ihsan
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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