Floods feared to threaten national food resilence
January 8, 2008, 12:20 am
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Jakarta (ANTARA News) – The flood disasters that have hit several Indonesian provinces and caused damage to rice fields are feared to threaten national food resilience as farmers are facing difficulties in cultivating their lands again because they are now crippled by their financial obligations to repay loans, a legislator said here on Monday.

Deputy Chairman of the House of Representatives (DPR)`s Commission IV which deals with agriculture, forestry, maritime and plantation affairs, Syarfi Hutauruk, said the worst-hit areas were parts of Java that serve as national rice production centers.

He said forest degradation had caused floods which had damaged settlements and rice fields in Java. “Java which so far supplies 65 percent of national rice production, has been ruined by the floods,” he said.

He said hundreds of thousands of farmers in Java were facing harvest failure this year. About 94,829 hectares of rice fields had been submerged by flood waters, of which 36,205 hectares were totally destroyed. It was estimated that rains would continue to pour on Java until March 2008.

This condition was also feared to destroy rice production centers in West Java. “West Java which has 950,000 hectares of rice fields has the potential of being hit by floods,” Syarfi said.

“About 50,000 hectares of rice fields are beginning to deteriorate as a result of flooding,” he added.

Other rice producing provinces in Kalimantan, Sumatra, Sulawesi and Nusa Tenggara had also experienced floods.

Because of these conditions, it was certain that the government`s target of increasing dried unhulled rice production by 5 percent would not be achieved. Therefore, the target must be revised, he said.

“We experienced the floods as a result of the El Nino phenomenon and after the floods have gone we will face drought,” the legislator said.

Therefore, the House Commission IV was calling on the government to seriously improve the agricultural infrastructures such as irrigation works, dikes and (damaged) village roads, he said. (*)


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