Padang, W Sumatra (ANTARA) - The agriculture sector served as a cushion for Indonesia's economy during the last three years amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, according to Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo.

"During the COVID-19 pandemic, only the agricultural sector grew. It was not the Ministry of Agriculture that made the data but Statistics Indonesia (BPS)," the minister remarked here on Saturday.

Limpo made the statement during the opening of the XVI Indonesian Farmers and Fishers National Week (Penas Tani), being held on June 10-15, 2023, at the Sutan Sjahrir Air Base, Padang, West Sumatra.

Since agriculture was the only sector to have grown during the pandemic, the minister expressed gratitude to governors, district heads, and mayors, especially farmers and fishers across Indonesia, for helping save the country's economy.

"President expressed his gratitude because we (the agriculture sector) could become an economic cushion and make Indonesia the best country in dealing with the COVID-19 turbulence," he stated.

Based on data, Indonesia's export value drastically increased, from Rp300 trillion (some US$20.14 billion) to Rp665 trillion (some US$44.66 billion), he stated.

In his remarks, the minister also stated that President Joko Widodo also appealed to and encouraged regional governments to not solely rely on the state budget (APBN) and regional budget (APBD) to advance the agriculture sector.

Regional governments at the provincial, city, and district levels should be able to build cooperation with state-owned banks to push growth of the agriculture sector through the people's business credit (KUR) mechanism.

"KUR is the president's program and has received recognition from the world. Thus, it must be utilized," the minister remarked.

In 2020, KUR funds used by the agriculture sector reached Rp55 trillion (some US$3.69 billion), and the rate of non-performing loans had only stood at 0.03 percent. Thus, it indicated that farmers in Indonesia can be trusted to utilize funds provided by banks.

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Translator: Muhammad Zulfikar, Raka Adji
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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