The crop planting index in this swamp land is once every year. We aim to raise it to twice per year.
Tanah Laut (ANTARA) - Minister of Agriculture Andi Amran Sulaiman, visited a swamp land in Padang village, Tanah Laut district, South Kalimantan to review its potential for growing food and helping maintain national food production.

“South Kalimantan is Indonesia’s food support, so the Ministry of Agriculture has designated South Kalimantan, South Sumatra, Central Kalimantan, West Kalimantan, and South Sulawesi as the national food support,” Sulaiman said in Tanah Laut, South Kalimantan, on Thursday.

The minister noted that South Kalimantan has 200 thousand hectares of swamp land where food could potentially be grown. If managed properly, the swamp land could produce 1 million tons of rice, he said.

According to the minister, the government is making efforts to optimize the utilization of swamp lands through their rehabilitation, followed by rice plantation.

“The crop planting index in this swamp land is once every year. We aim to raise it to twice per year. Thus, we will build an embankment along the river to make the water available and prevent floods,” he informed.

Sulaiman said he is optimistic that the ministry would be able to optimize swamp lands in South Kalimantan, especially in Tanah Laut district, through the Save Swamp Lands, Make Farmers Prosper (Serasi) program.

The distribution of fertilizers in Tanah Laut is optimal without any complaints about fertilizer availability since the region requires farmers to show ID cards (KTPs) to avail subsidized fertilizers, he pointed out.

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According to director general of agricultural infrastructure at the ministry, Ali Jamil, effective land and water management as well as repair of irrigation infrastructure are crucial for carrying out farming in swamp lands.

Jamil lauded farmers in Tanah Laut for not only converting rainfed swamp lands into productive fields, but also working hard to create a drainage network to keep the soil fertile.

“Before conducting the Serasi program in 2019, Tanah Laut district faced an obstacle that hindered agriculture. With the Serasi program, water management could be increased, allowing a planting period in the rainy season, which was previously difficult due to flood risks,” Jamil highlighted.

Meanwhile, the acting head of Tanah Laut district, Syamsir Rahman, said that the swamp land optimization program under Minister Sulaiman is a great initiative and is needed by both the regional government and farmers.

Under the program, embankments and damaged irrigation canals are being repaired so that the fields can be planted with crops again, he added. Thus, fields that could only be planted with crops once a year are now growing crops twice a year.

Rahman said that the farmers in Tanah Laut were left dispirited after a 10-day flood damaged the embankment and affected agricultural productivity.

“We are pleased with the minister’s presence and the swamp lands' optimization program. Therefore, the damaged embankment can be repaired and rice planting can occur twice a year,” he added.

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Translator: Gunawan W, Azis Kurmala
Editor: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
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