Dzulfiqar Fathur Rahman, Jakarta – House of Representatives Commission IV approved on Monday a vastly increased Agriculture Ministry budget that is aimed at supporting the national economic recovery from the slump caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The budget of Rp 21.83 trillion (US$1.48 billion) marks an increase of around 50 percent from the ministry's 2020 budget of Rp 14.06 trillion.
The Agricultural Infrastructure and Facilities Directorate General will get the largest share of the budget with an allocation of Rp 5.27 trillion, followed by the Food Crops Directorate General with Rp 4.91 trillion and the Animal Husbandry Directorate General with Rp 2.13 trillion.
"This budget was approved in farmers' interest," Suhardi Duka, a House member from the Democratic Party, was quoted as saying in a statement on Monday.
"Hence, we have to make sure farmers will not face any more difficulties. We have to give whatever they need, because this is about the national interest," said Suhardi, who represents West Sumatra in Commission IV, which oversees agriculture, forestry, maritime affairs, fisheries and food.
The budget approval comes at a time when the Agriculture Ministry claimed success in keeping the sector growing at 2.19 percent year-on-year (yoy) in the second quarter, while most sectors were down following the coronavirus restrictions. The agriculture sector's growth was mainly propelled by the shift in the peak of the rice harvest season from March to April.
However, farmers' terms of trade (NTP) once fell to 99.47 in May, indicating farmers' welfare got worse as their expenses exceeded their income two months after the pandemic started in the country. The NTP rose to 100.65 in August, marking an improvement in farmers' welfare.
"I hope the NTP can improve gradually and thus create prosperity for the farmers," said Suhardi.
The Agriculture Ministry is also allocating Rp 723 million for developing service centers and warehouses to maintain agricultural machines and tools in 18 villages, respectively.
"The criteria for the location and potential recipients of the assistance for the development of agricultural tools and machines service centers include considerations of the location of activities in agricultural production centers in several Indonesian regencies," said Sarwo Edhy, the director general of agricultural infrastructure and facilities at the ministry.
"[It also takes into consideration] their willingness to utilize, manage and optimize the assistance as well as their responsibility for using and maintaining the assistance for the development of agricultural tools and machine service centers they get," he added.