Jakarta (ANTARA) - Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Airlangga Hartarto, stated that the government planned on making the integrated food barn or food estate in Merauke, South Papua, as a special economic zone (KEK).

"Later, we will establish a special economic zone in Merauke," the minister confirmed after attending a food estate meeting at the Presidential Palace Complex, Jakarta, on Tuesday.

According to Hartarto, the Merauke Food Estate KEK would focus on rice and sugarcane production. The government is planning to open two million hectares of land for this project but has not provided an estimate regarding the total production capacity of rice and sugarcane from the land.

"We have not discussed the production yet. The potential land (area) for this project can reach two million hectares, but we will start with 200 thousand hectares first," he remarked.

Hartarto did not specify the project construction budget. However, he ensured that the government would not only rely on the state budget but would also use a public-private partnership (PPP) cooperation scheme.

However, he refused to specify the investors, who are already exploring development of the food estate.

Earlier, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) stated that building a food estate was not easy work, with usually a failed production in the first harvest. Nonetheless, he said he would continue to build food estates to maintain national food security.

"Food estates can help to produce food reserve and maybe for export to other countries if they need it. However, developing a food estate is not as easy as it seems," he remarked on August 18, 2023.

According to the president, food barns are one of the solutions to anticipate the food crisis that threatens production, considering that regional and global countries are facing some crises.

This year, Indonesia was also hit by a decline in food production due to the extreme El Nino weather. For rice commodities, the government estimates a decrease of up to 1.2 million tons from the production target of 30 million tons.

The government will optimize food production in the next planting season to handle the food crisis while simultaneously securing import quotas to guarantee domestic food supplies.

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Translator: Indra Arief P, Resinta Sulistiyandari
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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