Focused on rice and corn, (as) this is important
Jakarta (ANTARA) - Newly appointed Minister of Agriculture, Andi Amran Sulaiman, aims to increase domestic rice production to reduce imports during his less-than-a-year term.

"Focused on rice and corn, (as) this is important. The rice import is 3.5 million. We will push it back to point 0 first. God willing, we will be self-sufficient again," Amran remarked at the ministry office after being appointed by President Joko Widodo on Wednesday.

Amran stated that although his term of office in the Onward Indonesia Cabinet was less than a year, he is optimistic that his target of reducing rice imports can be realized, as Indonesia was once a self-sufficient country in terms of rice.

"We can, as we used to be a rice self-sufficient country. I am just a small part of the agricultural ministry. There are the Deputy Minister, Director General, they are great people, believe me, this change is as easy as a piece of cake," he remarked.

Regarding the threat of a decline in rice production due to El Nino, he noted that the threat of El Nino in 2015 was higher than that this year. However, Indonesia managed to overcome that and even became self-sufficient in rice until 2017.

Amran remarked that his appointment as agricultural minister to replace Syahrul Yasin Limpo, who resigned on account of a corruption case, was only announced on Tuesday (Oct 24) afternoon.

During his inauguration at the State Palace on Wednesday morning, President Jokowi instructed him to boost food production, specifically for rice.

"I came here (to Jakarta) just yesterday afternoon at 5 p.m. local time, and that is how our president is. I was asked, I am confused. I had a chance to meet the deputy minister at 2 p.m. today," he remarked.

"The conclusion is that every second is destiny. Destiny has been determined, and we do not need to budge on destiny. Let destiny spin in its orbit," he noted.

He also denied that his meeting with President Jokowi at the State Palace last September was held to discuss his appointment as agriculture minister. At the meeting held a month ago, he said they only discussed Indonesia's economic problems as a whole and the natural resources potential (SDA), especially in eastern Indonesia.

"We were discussing Indonesia's economy and natural resources' potential, especially in eastern Indonesia," he said.

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Translator: Yoanita Hastryka Djohan
Editor: Sri Haryati
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