Jakarta (ANTARA) - Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo has asked local governments to prepare food barns in their respective areas, down to the village level, as part of efforts to anticipate the impact of a potential El Nino event.

"We need food barns as an anticipation effort ahead of El Nino. ," he cautioned at a discussion forum on "Harvesting amid El Nino" in Jakarta on Tuesday.

Each region must have a large stock of food. If the buffer stock is not adequate, the threat of El Nino can be very dangerous, he said.

He urged regional governments to seriously anticipate the impact of El Nino since it could hamper the community's food supply.

"The government's main task is to provide food for people's consumption. If the food condition is not adequate, then our efforts will go to waste. Why do we have roads and all good facilities but no food for the people?" he asked.

The minister also asked each region to prepare a pilot plot of one thousand hectares since the preparation for handling El Nino requires 540 thousand hectares of land. The pilot land would support efforts to increase the production capacity of the concerned areas.

"Farmers and residents can see it (the pilot plot) as an example, such as (for) water management or the use of organic fertilizers. With this land, the community can increase the production of various food commodities," he explained.

Furthermore, he also reminded local governments to identify and map the locations affected by drought and group areas into red, yellow, and green zones. Local governments must also accelerate the planting period to make use of the remaining rainfall, he added.

For example, areas in the yellow zone can be used by farmers to build ponds using tarpaulins and dig existing wells as a source of water, especially for horticulture.

"There is still water in the green areas, use them as long as there is rain. I remind you that in July we are starting to enter the El Nino period but in fact, some regions still have rain. Therefore, speed up planting. If you used to wait 14–20 days to plant, now it cannot take more than seven days," he said.

Limpo then asked local governments to increase the availability of agricultural machinery to expedite planting, provide drought-resistant seeds, handle plant-disturbing organisms, as well develop organic fertilizers, centrally and independently.

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Translator: Kuntum Khaira R, Resinta S
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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