"This year, the PUPR Ministry will redesign the irrigation network in the 165 thousand hectares of the Food Estate area in Central Kalimantan," Hadimuljono remarked during a working meeting with Commission V of the House of Representatives.
The government intends to develop the food estate in Pulang Pisau District in Central Kalimantan Province by using alluvial soil at the site of the failed mega-peatland development project (PLG).
"The potential area reaches some 295,500 hectares. Some 165 thousand hectares of the area had already been prepared as an irrigated paddy field, of which only 85,500 hectares was utilized as productive land. We want to intensify production in 57,200 hectares (ha) of the productive land," he expounded.
The remaining 79,500 ha of the 165 thousand-ha of potential land had been abandoned and covered in bushes.
"Last week, we had visited the area along with wetland experts. The 59,200 hectares of productive land had only produced 1.7-2.9 tons of rice per hectare," he pointed out.
The minister opined that the low productivity was owing to an inefficient irrigation system that hindered the flow of water and optimal fertilizer absorption coupled with recurrent flooding in the swampy area.
"Next year, we will involve state enterprises and the Defense Ministry. Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto had once stated that food estate is a non-military defense," he affirmed.
Hadimuljono highlighted the significance of food resilience as part of the non-military defense. To this end, the defense minister will mobilize youth, with expertise in the fields of computer and agriculture.
The PUPR Ministry had earlier targeted to revive 165 thousand hectares of land as a food estate in Central Kalimantan during the period from 2020 to 2022 in a bid to realize national food resilience.
President Joko Widodo has tasked the ministry with developing the food estate that is projected to become a new food barn outside Java Island.
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