Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesia's Ministry of Agriculture is redirecting a budget of Rp7 trillion (around US$416 million) to assist farmers in dealing with El Niño and the impending drought during the peak dry season from August to October.

Following a meeting with President Joko Widodo to discuss food security issues on Tuesday, Agriculture Minister Andi Amran Sulaiman revealed that the budget was previously allocated for buildings, business trips, or seminars.

"These funds will now be used to purchase seeds, pumps, and agricultural machinery for farmers," he remarked.

Sulaiman emphasized that the ministry would prioritize addressing farmers' needs during the critical three-month period to ensure continued agricultural production.

“Rainfall is expected to begin in November," he remarked.

He stated that the president had instructed the ministry to expedite the budget refocusing process to address the extreme dry season.

The minister explained that a quick solution to mitigate the effects of El Niño and drought is the use of pumps to channel water from sources to agricultural land.

"Currently, around 70 percent of the planned pumps have been procured. Once all are installed, we will have 25,000 pumps, significantly reducing drought risks," he said.

The president has further instructed him to finalize the procurement of the remaining 30 percent of pumps before August 2024.

These pumps will be distributed across Java, East Java, Central Java, West Java, Lampung, South Sumatra, South Sulawesi, South Kalimantan, and Central Kalimantan.

"We will prioritize rice production centers that require year-round water availability," he stated.

Sulaiman highlighted the potential for utilizing existing water sources in Java, such as the Bengawan Solo River, the Cimanuk River, and the Brantas River.

"Pumping water serves as a quick solution, allowing for immediate cultivation. Building new rice fields, on the other hand, can take up to three years," he explained.

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Translator: Rangga Pandu A J, Resinta Sulistiyandari
Editor: Anton Santoso
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