Ogan Ilir, South Sumatra (ANTARA) - Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo on Monday assured that national rice stocks are sufficient amid the El Niño drought threat.

"According to President Joko Widodo's orders, we will prepare a sufficient rice stock. The South Sumatra Governor has also agreed to deliver 200 thousand tons of rice from South Sumatra for Indonesia," the minister informed while reviewing the first rice planting organized under the El Niño National Movement in Ogan Ilir District, South Sumatra.

Besides rice, South Sumatra Province will prepare the existing 150 thousand hectares of water supply area for use as a food barn for the region, Limpo said.

"We will utilize this land with technology for a food barn in South Sumatra," he added.

He explained that based on the existing balance sheet, Indonesia’s national food stocks are at a safe level.

In August 2023, Indonesia's food stocks were supplied by around 850 thousand hectares of harvested land and this number will increase in September.

"Indonesia's food balance is quite good; however, we cannot underestimate the threat of extreme weather. Based on the existing balance in August, we still have 850 thousand hectares ready for harvest," he said.

Meanwhile, director general of food crops at the ministry, Suwandi, said that El Niño could have a direct impact on the agricultural sector, for instance, it could trigger a drought, changes in the planting season, attacks by pests, and reduce production productivity.

"Therefore, we have prepared a number of strategies, starting from accelerating planting, pest control, and movement to deal with the impacts of climate change," he added.

South Sumatra Governor Herman Deru said he was grateful for Minister Limpo's attention to the national El Niño rice planting movement.

According to him, the minister also provided people's business credit (KUR) assistance to encourage an increase in planting and land expansion.

"For the South Sumatra region, rice productivity has reached 2.9 million tons. Now, we are capable of increasing the planting area and harvest to 3 million tons. We have also succeeded in running KUR with almost 100 percent absorption," he added.

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Translator: Ahmad Rafli B, Resinta S
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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