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Jakarta Post

Mass-scale farming on peatland detrimental to environment, experts warn

  • A. Muh. Ibnu Aqil
    A. Muh. Ibnu Aqil

    The Jakarta Post

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Jakarta   /   Thu, May 21, 2020   /  07:12 am
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A woman points at dead oil palms in Jambi in February 2018. She wants to grow plants that are more suited to peatland.(JP/Syafrizaldi)

President Joko “Jokowi” Widiodo has recently ordered state-owned companies (BUMN) to make swathes of peatland in Kalimantan available for rice fields to anticipate possible food shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic. The government has yet to work out the details, but the Agriculture Ministry is considering making available 600,000 hectares of peatland in Central Kalimantan to produce buffer stocks. Another 300,000 ha plot of peatland has been set aside for the project in the province, Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartanto said. But the plan has met with doubt from experts and farmers, who said past experience had shown that such a mass-scale project was detrimental to the environment and only small-scale farming on peatland was viable. Bogor Agricultural University (IPB) researcher Dwi Andreas Santosa noted a project to turn 1 million ha of peatland ...