Indonesia to face food crisis if farm land continues to shrink

Makassar (Antara News) - Indonesia will face a food crisis in 2017 or 20 years from now given the disparity between population growth and the rate at which the country`s farm land area is shrinking, Agriculture Minister Anton Apriyantono said here on Monday.

Speaking on the sidelines of a workshop on farm land development policies, the minister said with the population growing by 1.3 to 1.5 percent per year and farm lands being converted into industrial and housing sites at an increasingly rapid rate, there was a real fear that a food crisis will hit Indonesia in the coming 10 to 20 years.

Based on the projected domestic demand for rice in 2009, rice production needed to be increased by 1.8 million tons by that year, and to do so, the country`s rice farming area had to be widened by 600,000 hectares.

"The need for additional rice farming areas can only be met if no more farm lands are turned into industrial and residential areas. Right now, there is almost no more land that can be used to plant food crops," he said.

He said Indonesia was facing serious problems in the agriculture sector because its population growth had increased to 1.34 percent per year while the width of its farming area had remained the same.

The minister said if the problem was not solved soon, Indonesia would sooner or later become dependent on rice imports.

In view of the problems he had mentioned, the minister called on all districts and municipalities in the country to implement the government`s agriculture revitalization agenda.(*)
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