RI's govt to invest Rp9 trillion to create new rice fields

RI's govt to invest Rp9 trillion to create new rice fields

Dahlan Iskan. (ANTARA)

Balikpapan, East Kalimantan (ANTARA News) - The government plans to invest Rp9 trillion to create new rice fields in East Kalimantan to increase production as of 2012, State Enterprises Minister Dahlan Iskan said.

"If the atmosphere is not conducive or the investment is disrupted we will leave," he said before East Kalimantan Governor Awang Faroek Ishak, district heads/city mayors and deputy district heads and city mayors of the region here on Tuesday night.

He said the investment would be made through PT Pupuk Sriwijaya (Pusri), PT Pertani and PT Sanghyang Seri (SHS).

The three state-owned companies would create 100,000 hectares of new rice fields with PT SHS being responsible for creating 40,000 hectares of them, PT Pusri 30,000 and PT Pertani 30,000.

He said as business entities their capital must be accounted for before their shareholders and so the companies should use a business approach for the project.

In view of that, his office would first conduct an evaluation for a month to assure whether or not the investment could be implemented there.

"If East Kalimantan is considered not feasible we still have land in other regions such as Jambi, South Sumatra and Papua," he said.

To acquire the land, Dahlan said the president directors of the three companies had to reach out to districts in the region.

Minister Dahlan Iskan was scheduled to inspect the envisaged locations for the program in Kutai Barat, Kutai Kartanegara, Kutai Timur, Berau and Bulungan by helicopter on Wednesday.

He said the land would be owned by the state-owned companies to assure continuity of production. "It must not be like in the case of sugarcane production in Java where state-owned companies only own factories," he said.

Dahlan said rice production had been ignored so far. Besides the ministry of agriculture no other institutions has specially cared rice production and as a result, Indonesia still imports rice and to curb inflation has to supply almost 500,000 tons to the market.

"Indeed our inflation rate last year was the best recorded at only 3.7 percent but we have also supplied the biggest ever rice supplies in the period and it was very expensive," he said.

In view of that, quoting President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono`s statement Dahlan said this program was very important and had to be made successful and therefore it is time now for the production of the commodity to be handled by corporations not traditionally. He said rice is the staple food of the Indonesian people and therefore its problems could affect politics.

He said "we must also be ashamed to import rice. We are an agrarian country, have vast land but how could we still have to import rice. Therefore in time of rice crisis we lose our economic and political pride meaning the government is unable to provide food for its people."

He said if the program is successful his office would increase the fields by 200,000 hectares more to make the total to reach 300,000 hectares.

With regard to the development of the next rice fields the state-owned companies would be open to various schemes of cooperation, he said. He said consideration would also be taken on whether the companies should create subsidiaries with their shares able to be owned by individuals, businessmen or others to make it a commonly-owned company."

In response to Dahlan East Kalimantan governor Awang Faroek said he hoped the implementation of the program would involve the people because investors that entered the region so far tended to ignore them.

Awang had said the region had prepared around 200,000 hectares of land for the food estate program. Even based on the latest developments 300,000 hectares of land had already been made available for it spreading in 10 districts including Penajam Paser Utara, Kutai Kartanegara, Kutai Barat, Kutai Timur, Berau, Bulungang and Nunukan.
(Uu.H-YH/HAJM/S012)

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