"I have decided that Merauke is proclaimed to become the nation`s granary, starting this year," President Joko Widodo said.
Manokwari (ANTARA News) - The Indonesian government plans to boost Merauke as the nations granary by managing its 4.6 million-hectare area after the district launched a grand rice harvest on 300 hectares of paddy fields, stated President Joko Widodo.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the Sulawesi-Maluku-Papua Optical Fiber Cable System here on Sunday, the president stated that the decision to make Merauke as the nations granary is an enormous program to fulfill the domestic rice needs.

"I have decided that Merauke is proclaimed to become the nations granary, starting this year," he said.

The head of stated noted that the enormous program can be achieved by implementing modern mechanization.

"If the people in Merauke really work towards seriously implementing the program by using suitable modern agricultural mechanism, the rice production from an area of 4.6 million hectares will equal any other area in Indonesia," Jokowi emphasized.

However, the president was still uncertain about the time period when the program could be realized. Therefore, the program is targeted to be completed within the next three years.

He explained that 1.2 million hectares of land can yield 7 tons per hectare on an average and 8.4 million tons of rice production can be achieved.

"If one day, the entire harvest can be collected from 4.6 million hectares of land, then the rice production will reach over 24 million tons. This means that Merauke has already fulfilled the domestic rice needs of around 30 percent," he elaborated.

Moreover, if rice production is collected from the entire province, then Indonesia will possibly become the largest rice producer in the world.

Jokowi admitted that the program requires substantial funding to realize it.

During his three-day working visit to Papua, President Joko Widodo today also attended a grand harvest on rice fields measuring 300 hectares in Wapeko, Kurik Sub-district, Merauke District, Papua Province.

The grand harvest was conducted by using a combine harvester, and paddy planting was later carried out by using a paddy transplanter.

Before some 500 local farmers, the head of state remarked that Merauke should become a food exporter in the future.

The government, in its efforts to boost paddy production, has distributed paddy harvesting and planting machines to the local farmers.(*)

Editor: Heru Purwanto
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