Apriadi Gunawan, Humbang Hasundutan, North Sumatra – The government is set to develop 30,000 hectares into farmland in Humbang Hasundutan regency, North Sumatra by next month as the Agriculture Ministry commences its food estate program to spur the local economy.
The first phase of the program will make use of 1,000 ha for potatoes, shallots and garlic, Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo said.
"The food estate program we're developing is the first of its kind in Indonesia. However, it will not be limited to North Sumatra. This is the pilot project," he said during a visit to Ria Ria village in the regency on Friday.
If the pilot project succeeds, regions with similar land characteristics will be included in the program, Syahrul said.
"We can expect good results if capital intervention also follows. Residents must be empowered through each hectare that is being developed," he said.
Syahrul also said the agriculture sector had recorded 22 percent growth during the pandemic.
He cited that based on ministry records, the export of horticulture products in August had reached Rp 22 trillion (US$1.4 billion) and a total of Rp 225 trillion from January to August.
The food estate program in North Sumatra, Syahrul added, aimed to improve the province's economy through agriculture and enhance the country's resilience in food security.
North Sumatra's deputy governor, Musa Rajekshah, welcomed the program, saying that the administration supported the program.
"We are grateful to see spacious land used for state and residents' interests, especially for Humbang Hasundutan regency," he said during the visit.
Humbang Hasundutan Regent Dosmar Banjarnahor expressed the same optimism.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo previously ordered the Public Works and Housing Ministry to expand the government's food estate program by developing 165,000 ha in Pulang Pisau regency, Central Kalimantan, into farmland.
The program seeks to address the government's concerns about a looming food crisis as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, heeding an earlier warning from the Food and Agriculture Organization. (trn)