Karawang (ANTARA) - The Indonesian government is optimistic of successfully handling the adverse impacts of the El Nino-induced prolonged dry season on the agricultural sector, Deputy Minister of Agriculture Harvick Hasnul Qolbi said.

"Praise be to God, we still have sufficient amounts of food stocks. Hopefully, we will handle it (El Nino) well," he affirmed during a harvesting activity at the Center for Studies on Plant Pest Organisms (BBPOPT) in Karawang district, West Java, on Friday.

Qolbi informed that the Agriculture Ministry has prepared a number of measures focused on building food resilience for anticipating the El Nino heat phenomenon.

The measures include encouraging parties to expedite planting, upgrading and rejuvenating agricultural equipment, and selecting and prioritizing superior seeds that are more resistant to extreme weather, he elaborated.

The deputy minister said that the ministry has distributed sorted seeds to several regions, including West Java, in the hopes of maintaining the agricultural productivity rate in the regions.

Furthermore, he said that the current prolonged dry season that the country is experiencing has indeed slowed down the production of rice.

According to him, Indonesia's rice production is witnessing a slowdown, with output falling by 1.2 million tons.

However, he affirmed that the country will not see a deficit since its total annual production of rice is still pegged at 30 million tons.

"El Nino has indeed resulted in a slowdown in (rice) production. Nevertheless, this can be managed," he said.

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He then appealed to the public to not worry about the slowdown, saying that the country has still sufficient stocks of rice.

In addition to participating in the harvesting activity, Deputy Minister Qolbi inspected soybean plants cultivated by BBPOPT during his working visit to Karawang district.

His visit was part of the government's efforts to ensure that regions are able to maintain their food resilience amid the prolonged dry season.

Meanwhile, head of Karawang district, Cellica Nurrachadiana, extended her gratitude to the Agriculture Ministry for its attentiveness to the condition of the agricultural sector in her district.

The district head said that Karawang has been successful in securing sufficient supply of water by maintaining the operation of irrigation canals.

"We are also currently expediting planting processes to anticipate El Nino," she added.

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Translator: M. Ali, Tegar Nurfitra
Editor: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
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