Palembang, South Sumatra (ANTARA News) - The government has allocated Rp1 trillion in the state budget for the expansion of the country`s rice cultivation area in 2012, a minister said.

Agriculture Minister Suswono said here (Feb. 3) the government and state-owned enterprises (BUMNs) were each expected to open 100 thousand hectares of new rice fields in 2012.

The minister made the remarks during a coordination meeting on food resilience in the framework of increasing national rice production (P2BN) and accelerating the food diversification program (P2KP).

He said if the program was successful it would mean that a total of 200 thousand hectares of new rice fields would be opened to offset a shrinkage in the rice cultivation area caused by the conversion of farmlands into land for other purposes.

The minister said the opening of one hectare of rice fields would cost some Rp10 million per hectare so that if the new rice fields covered 100 thousand hectares it meant the program would cost some Rp1 trillion.

The minister said that the budget amounting to Rp1 trillion came from the state budget for 2012.

Suswono said that there were four main strategies now being applied namely raising the productivity of farmers by applying cultural technology, particularly for rice field in specific location.

"We hope we could optimize it because increasing further productivity is still possible. Our average productivity is still about 5.1 tons per hectare, and I think it still could be increased and of course this should become a priority," the minister said.

Editor: Priyambodo RH
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