Rizki Fachriansyah, Jakarta – The government has determined that the country's food estate will be primarily developed in Central Kalimantan and North Sumatra, bringing the program closer to fruition amid concerns over a food crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo revealed on Wednesday that the development of the food estate in Kapuas regency and Pulau Pisau regency, Central Kalimantan and in Humbang Hasundutan regency, North Sumatra was already under way.
In addition, the government had started the early stages of food estate development in several other provinces, such as Papua, East Nusa Tenggara and South Sumatra, he said.
"There has been progress in the field, despite a number of issues that immediately need to be resolved, such as matters related to land ownership in the food estate area," the President said, adding that he would discuss land ownership issues with the Agrarian and Spatial Planning Ministry.
He went on to say that the government had formulated a master plan for the program, given that a unified development scheme was crucial to account for irrigated and non-irrigated lands in each food estate site.
"[...] there are 148,000 hectares of irrigated land in Central Kalimantan that will be used to plant rice paddies and 622,000 ha of non-irrigated land in the region developed for cassava, corn and cattle," Jokowi said.
Furthermore, infrastructure development was already under way in the regions – including the construction of roads – to accommodate access for vehicles and heavy equipment, he added.
Jokowi appointed Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto to lead the development of the national food estate program because food resilience falls within the domain of national defense.
He said the program was meant as an anticipatory measure amid concerns over a global food crisis due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as predicted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).