The newly planted paddy saplings have been worst affected. Thus, replanting must be conducted."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The current floods that have displaced many residents or forced them to evacuate in different parts of Indonesia, have also caused considerable damage to the countrys rice fields.

However the Ministry of Agriculture has predicted that on the national scale the floods only affected about one percent of the countrys irrigated rice fields which totaled 7.23 million hectares.

Agriculture Minister Suswono said last week his ministry had yet to receive complete and official reports on the acreage of damaged rice farms due to floods this month. The ministry, he said, is still taking stock of damaged plantation to know width of damaged rice fields and identify those which required replanting.

"Rice fields categorized as having failed to give harvestable yields are only about 0.6 to 0.7 percent," the minister pointed out.

He said that the Ministry of Agriculture is preparing 13,400 tons of paddy seeds in anticipation of the damage caused to the rice plantations as a result of natural disasters.

"The newly planted paddy saplings have been worst affected. Thus, replanting must be conducted," the minister said after attending a coordination meeting at the state logistics board Bulog office.

The minister pointed out that his ministry was also ready to offer assistance to the farmers whose rice plantations failed to produce harvestable yields as a result of the natural disasters.

"An assistance of Rp3.7 million will be offered for each affected hectare of paddy field, which failed to produce yields," the minister noted.

He said that the natural disaster that hit various regions over the past few days had not yet significantly disturbed rice production target. "It is still below one percent of the total production," he remarked.

Last year, Indonesia recorded a rice production surplus of 5.4 million tons. The countrys rice production reached 39.8 million tons, while its rice consumption stood at 34.4 million tons.

The government hopes that this years floods would not affect its rice production target set at about 76.57 million tons of unhulled rice or about 42 million tons of rice.

Therefore, the affected rice fields should soon be replanted with new rice saplings. The ministry will provide assistance for damaged rice fields. The assistance would be financed with a contingency fund made available by the ministry.

The funds will be used to procure rice seeds for farmers who suffer from floods. Besides, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) will provide assistance for other risks.

With regard to the governments target to achieve 10 million tons of rice production surplus, the minister expressed his optimism it would be achieved. After all, the government has set a number of strategies through the Bukit Tinggi Action Plan announced by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during the World Food Day commemoration in Padang, West Sumatra, last year.

So, the current floods in different parts of Indonesia are predicted to have no significant impact on the rice production target as it is estimated at only less than one percent of the total rice fields in the country.

Floods have hit several provinces on the islands of Java, Sulawesi, Sumatra, Nusa Tenggara, Kalimantan and others.

Karawang and Suabang in West Java are among those worst hit by the floods. At least 23,339 rice fields were inundated by flood waters in Karawang. Head of Karawang Plantation Service Kadarisman said on Friday that the flood affected rice farms were in the period of planting.

Floods have inundated over 23 thousand hectares of rice fields in tens of subdistricts in Karawang for more than one week, he said. Floods were triggered by torrential rains and the overflowing of the Citarum, Cibeet and Cilamaya rivers.

Kadarisman hoped that the floods would not affect the districts rice production target. Due to the floods, the commencement of the planting period could be shifted to a later schedule, he added.

Other West Java district, which was affected by floods is Subang where at least 19 thousand hectares of paddy fields were damaged after being submerged by flood waters for one week.

"About 70 percent of the paddy fields are threatened with harvest failures. It was too long for the water to inundate the rice plantation causing rice stalks to decompose," Hendrawan of the local Agricultural Service said on Saturday.

He predicted that the floods would disturb the districts rice production target. "Farmers suffer relatively big losses, amounting to about Rp3.2 billion," Hendrawan said.

Thousands of hectares of rice fields in Bekasi district, West Java, were also inundated by flood waters.

"At least 9,832 hectares were turned into a lake as they were filled with pools of water over the past one week," Farid Setiawan of Bakasis Agriculture, Plantation and Forestry Service, said on Friday.

He said that of the 9,832 hectares, 237.3 hectares were rice seedlings and 9,595 hectares were paddy plantations. However, he said, the affected rice fields could not yet be declared as having failed to give harvestable yields.

"Affected rice fields do not always fail to be harvested. Harvestable yields could be predicted only in the post-flood time after the floods in the rice fields have receded the rains have stopped to fall. Now we have made analysis only on data until January 20, 2014," he said.

On the national scale, the Ministry of Agriculture are still waiting for official reports from various provinces whose rice fields are affected by the current floods.

"We are still collecting data and waiting for official reports," Agriculture Minister Suswono said.

Reporter: Andi Abdussalam
Editor: Priyambodo RH
Copyright © ANTARA 2014