The Jakarta Post
Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto is set to oversee the development of the national food estate program, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has said.
Addressing journalists at the State Palace in Jakarta on Monday, the President said he appointed the defense minister to lead the program was because food resilience fell under the domain of national defense.
“What we call defense isn’t only about Alutsista [primary weaponry defense system] – it’s also about resilience in the food sector,” Jokowi said on Monday as quoted in a statement.
He said that the development of 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).
“We need to quickly anticipate [a possible food crisis] by establishing strategic food reserves,” Jokowi said, adding that Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo would also assist Prabowo in developing the program.
Jokowi previously instructed the Public Works and Housing Ministry to expand the government’s food estate program by developing 165,000 hectares of land in Pulang Pisau regency, Central Kalimantan, into farmland.
Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimulyono said last month that a total of 85,500 ha of land in the area already functioned as farmland, so the ministry only needed to clear 79,500 ha of scrubland for the development. The project aims to boost productivity by 2 tons of rice for each ha of land.