Indonesia develops courtyard crops as local food source

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - In anticipation of a national or global food crisis, the Indonesian government has developed the ability to supply food at the village level through a residential courtyard food crops development program.

Called the Sustainable Food House Zone (KRPL), the program encourages villagers to develop family food crop plantations, including vegetables such as eggplant, chili, tomatoes, mustard greens and tubers, which could be grown in their courtyards.

Since it was launched in 2008, the program has involved some 5,000 villages across the country, and the government plans to expand the program to 1,700 other villages by 2013. About 80 percent of the plantations begun in the 5,000 villages has been successful, according to officials.

Therefore, the ministry of agriculture will select 1,700 other villages to be cultivated as KRPL regions in 2013 in an effort to quicken the country`s food diversification programs.

"The government will continue to increase the number of KRPL zones by involving women's farmers groups (KWT), which have committed themselves to planting different food crops that produce vegetables and fruits," Achmad Suryana, the head of Food Resilience Affairs of the Agriculture Ministry, said when he observed a KRPL program in Taman Bumi Bora hamlet, Kawo village, Central Lombok district, West Nusa Tenggara, on Wednesday.

The courtyard food crops development program was launched with the government offering guidance and financing.

Further, according to Ahmad, the government will provide Rp36 million per group for those residents who cultivate KRPL zones in 2013.

This fund is larger than the previous allocation of Rp16 million in 2012.

The funds are used for yard preparations, vegetable and fruit seeds, and purchasing tools, particularly tools that will be used to produce powder and tuber products.

The various yields produced, such as eggplant, chili, tomatoes and mustard greens, can meet resident' daily needs, allowing them to save hundreds of thousands of rupiah per month, said officials.

Housewives who receive financial assistance to develop courtyard food crops can also earn additional incomes through the production of powder products from cassava or taro raw materials.

"Besides meeting the need of their families from vegetables grown in their yards, housewives can also earn additional incomes by producing cassava powder or processing the powder into economically valuable cakes," Ahmad noted.

The agriculture ministry official said the ministry`s Food Resilience Agency (BKP) in the district and provincial levels will provide guidance for three years by sending their agricultural instructors to the villages.

Ahmad said farmers groups would receive instructions in the first year, consolidation in the second year and assistance to expand the planted areas in the third year.

After the extension stage, farmers are expected to maintain their yard plantations and expand the system to other farmer families.

"We hope that the KRPL program will continue to be developed after the assistance program. It should not happen that after a harvest, they stop the cultivations. That`s why we ask the food resilience agencies in the district and provincial levels to continue guiding them," Ahmad said.

Additionally, he expressed his satisfaction with the program, since 80 percent of courtyard food crops in about 5,000 villages throughout the country were successful.

Due to this success, Agriculture Minister H Suswono on Friday explained the program to delegates from eight developing countries (D-8) during their meeting on food security affairs in Senggigi, West Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara (NTB).

The minister said that in an effort to boost the country`s food security, Indonesia has been promoting the Sustainable Food Houses Zone (KRPL) program.

"The program is a breakthrough in addressing not only food concerns, but also climate change," Suswono pointed out.

Even though Indonesia is considered to be safe from the food crisis threat, it has still been encouraged to take anticipatory steps, such as utilizing residential courtyards as plantation areas.

This program has been very helpful for many families in improving their welfare and in obtaining additional income. Besides assisting in the provision of food for residents, the program is also expected to reduce household expenditures by between Rp200.000 and Rp500.000 per month, the minister noted.

"Households can reduce their expenses with home-grown vegetables and home-raised eggs. The program will also be adopted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)," Suswono stated.

He noted that the FAO expressed interest in adopting the program developed by the ministry of agriculture. "They asked us to make a film on the program`s benefits, which they will use as a global module. We`ve made the film and hope that the FAO can promote it throughout the world. This is one of Indonesia`s contributions to the world," Suswono added.

The minister said that while Indonesia was not yet threatened with a food crisis, neither was the world, though it should take anticipatory steps as early as possible.

"The FAO representatives have stated that the world has not yet been hit by a global food crisis, but the organization has warned that a food crisis threat is real," Agriculture Minister H Suswono said.

However, he said, the international food organization had warned all developing countries to be prepared for a global food crisis.

In the meantime, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono earlier stated that the increasing number of people in the consuming class in the country constituted a favorable opportunity for businesses to prepare themselves.

"The businesses in this sector have a good prospect in Indonesia," President Yudhoyono told a leadership meeting of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) on Tuesday.

The President also said demand for food and energy would continue to increase in keeping with the expanding world population, which was expected to increase from today's 7 billion to 9 billion by 2024.

This population will require about 60 to 70 percent more food and energy supplies, according the president.

(A014/KR-BSR/O001)

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