Amran Sulaiman, Minister of Agriculture: Interview

Amran Sulaiman, Minister of Agriculture

Interview: Amran Sulaiman

What needs to be done to improve infrastructure in the sector, especially in terms of irrigation systems?

AMRAN SULAIMAN: Irrigation is the lifeblood of a healthy agricultural system. Improving production would have been impossible without prioritising water management systems. Effective and sustainable water management has become increasingly important in light of the impact of climate change. The ministry’s efforts began with the construction, redevelopment and repair of dams, primary and secondary canals, tertiary gates, and tertiary canals. The result was the realisation of efficient tertiary irrigation systems, which now cover 3.5m ha, 2% more than the initial target. Priority is being placed on continuing to develop sustainable water management projects by constructing long storage and rainwater-harvesting systems. The construction of reservoir channels and shallow wells, and the maximisation of river water through effective pumping and piping systems, are also being prioritised.

How can the government ensure efficient land allocation for agricultural use?

SULAIMAN: Agrarian polices are another crucial focus area for us. A productive agricultural system which supports the needs of the nation depends on productive land. As such, we have been revitalising suboptimal and sleeping pockets of land, and implementing arid-to-arable land conversion projects. Policies have also been introduced to protect agricultural land from industrial and residential conversion. These efforts have raised productivity, and have also allowed us to extend our rice fields by 145,000 ha and optimise a further 1m ha of other agricultural land. The government’s agrarian reform policies will continue to assist in the reallocation of land for agricultural use, and mitigate further residential and industrial conversion. Currently, food crops are in the biggest need of land. This relates to the particularly important goal of working towards food security, which is critical for a growing population.

What measures can be taken to improve smallholder farmers’ yields and reach food self-sufficiency?

SULAIMAN: Smallholder farmers are responsible for over 90% of agricultural production in Indonesia and are pillars of rural communities, so they are a critical priority. Measures and policies which support the improvement of agricultural input, and the modernisation and sustainability of farming practices, will continue to be a critical focus. In the past year we have seen several holistic improvements. Developing the agriculture sector and increasing productivity, production and ultimately increasing prosperity have involved improvements in many areas. The most significant of these has been the achievement of self-sufficiency in various staple food commodities from 2016/17 through changing existing policies, developing agricultural infrastructure and modernising practices.

Challenges do of course exist in relation to logistical infrastructure, market access, and, most importantly, overly complicated supply chains. The Ministry of Agriculture will continue to strengthen policies and collaborate with other ministries – such as the Ministry of Trade and the Ministry of State-Owned Enterprises – in order to further simplify the supply chain, improve market access and stabilise prices.

We also believe that the role of research and innovation is vital in boosting the productivity and sustainability of agriculture. Great advances are made through collaboration, and countries can share invaluable knowledge with one another. By innovating on a domestic level as well as collaborating with foreign partners, great progress can be made. A good example of how research and development can contribute to increasing productivity is the 3S pest-resistant paddy rice variety, which we will start distributing to farmers first in East and West Java. Developed by Bogor Agricultural University, this variety offers high yields and will help boost rice production. We want to prioritise our farmers and provide them with top-quality seeds.

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Amran Sulaiman

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The Report: Indonesia 2018

Agriculture chapter from The Report: Indonesia 2018

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This article is from the Agriculture chapter of The Report: Indonesia 2018. Explore other chapters from this report.