Jakarta (ANTARA) - Agriculture Minister Andi Amran Sulaiman stated that the government is intensifying the pumping program as a quick solution to address agricultural problems, especially irrigating dry rice fields affected by the El Nino phenomenon.

"I am optimistic that Indonesia will be able to become self-sufficient (in food) in a sustainable manner with the help of this pumping program," Sulaiman noted in a statement from his office on Thursday.

The minister announced plans to expand irrigation pumping to 500 thousand hectares of rice fields, both within and outside Java Island.

Sulaiman highlighted that the government also continues to optimize Swamp Land (Oplah) as a long-term sustainable program.

He expressed hope that the 2024 Eid al-Fitr momentum would drive an increase in food production in Indonesia to fulfill the need for basic food for more than 270 million Indonesians.

Without food, a country cannot stand strong, as social conflicts would arise, he emphasized.

"A country without food can be destroyed because the phenomenon will lead to a social conflict between its people," he stressed.

He said he was grateful that Indonesia has succeeded in becoming the strongest country in terms of food supply. This means that production carried out from year to year is always able to meet domestic needs, he added.

He explained that food issues were of particular concern for President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) in the wake of a multidimensional crisis in all countries, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine war, and the extreme weather phenomenon of El Nino that had reduced domestic production.

"However, we were able to overcome this crisis and remain strong in food issues," Sulaiman remarked.

According to the minister, President Jokowi had earlier approved an additional allocation of subsidized fertilizer of Rp28 trillion (US$1.7 billion). With this addition, the allocation of subsidized fertilizer in 2024 will reach 9.5 million tons, or Rp54 trillion, from earlier only 4.7 million tons.

"Farmers do not need to worry about fertilizer shortages because they are available everywhere. We have also changed the rules for collecting fertilizer. Farmers only need to show their ID to access the fertilizer," he noted.

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Translator: Muhammad Harianto, Resinta Sulistiyandari
Editor: Tia Mutiasari
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