God willing, we will soon be able to optimize the entire area of swamplands since (shortage of) rice has become a global issue that requires international collaboration to overcome
Jakarta (ANTARA) - Agriculture Minister Andi Amran Sulaiman invited the Government of Thailand to cooperate in optimizing swamplands to strengthen Southeast Asia's food resilience during a meeting with Thai Ambassador Prapan Disyatat.

Sulaiman said he believes that Indonesia and Thailand wield notable experiences in designating swamplands as productive sites.

"I learned that Thailand is also experienced in managing both dry and wet lands. Thus, we will try to collaborate with them (Thailand), considering that we have been managing 400 hectares (of swamplands)," he remarked in Jakarta on Tuesday.

The collaboration could take form in the exchange of technology, he affirmed.

Currently, the government is taking various measures for boosting the production of strategic commodities with the aim of reducing Indonesia's increasing reliance on rice imports.

Related news: Indonesia stresses world peace at R20 Summit of Religious Authorities

One of the measures involves the optimization of a total of 10 million hectares of swamplands scattered across Indonesia.

"God willing, we will soon be able to optimize the entire area of swamplands since (shortage of) rice has become a global issue that requires international collaboration to overcome," he noted.

He then placed emphasis on the need to ramp up the production of food, as the entire Asian region is currently struggling with a food crisis. Indonesia has been facing pressure to become a food self-sufficient country to lower imports, he affirmed.

"We do need to suppress imports by increasing domestic production. To that end, we are optimizing technology to improve water management in the hopes of creating proper water circulation for paddies to grow as expected," Sulaiman remarked.

He further noted that the Agriculture Ministry would soon hold meetings with representatives of other countries to explore opportunities to cooperate in swamp land optimization.

"Hopefully, we will succeed not only in boosting rice production to reduce imports but also in exporting our rice to Thailand," he stated.

Related news: Indonesia uses INSW to accelerate international trade digitization

Meanwhile, Ambassador Disyatat noted that Thailand and Indonesia had long enjoyed collaboration and cooperation in the food sector, with strengthening food resilience in Southeast Asia as one of the objectives.

He remarked that the two countries have inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on agriculture that provides Thailand with a foundation to collaborate in various aspects to support the development of sustainable agriculture.

He noted that as a follow-up to the MoU, agriculture ministries of both countries have formed the Joint Agriculture Working Group, so they can anticipate likely problems that could impede the development of agriculture.

Disyatat noted that his meeting with Sulaiman was held to bolster their countries' commitment to synchronizing views on the importance of rice as the staple food of both Indonesia and Thailand.

He also suggested that Indonesia and Thailand start exploring potential for collaboration in solidifying rice value chains in both countries.

Related news: Indonesia, UAE build heart hospital in Central Java's Surakarta

Translator: Farhan A, Tegar NurfitrA
Editor: Jafar M Sidik
Copyright © ANTARA 2023