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Jakarta Post

Food, not rice, security

  • Editorial board

    Jakarta

Jakarta   /   Wed, August 5 2020   /  08:07 am
Food talks: President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo (left) talks to Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto (right) and Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono during the inspection of a location for the National Food Barn Development in Bentuk Jaya village, Kapuas regency, Central Kalimantan, on Thursday. Jokowi appointed Prabowo to head the newly established food barn.(Courtesy of Presidential Secretariat/Lukas)

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s decision to develop 164,000 hectares of rice estates in Central Kalimantan is conceptually inappropriate because the policy is predicated on the perception that food security is defined almost solely as rice self-sufficiency. The huge project is agronomically and environmentally not sustainable because a substantial portion of the rice estate will be developed on peatland, which is for the most part not suitable for growing rice. Most independent agronomists and environmentalists have warned that the project will not be sustainable economically and ecologically and will only repeat the big mistake of the mega rice project launched by then-president Soeharto in the same area in the mid-1990s. However, given Jokowi’s stubborn obsession with achieving rice self-sufficiency, not a single Cabinet member has dared to argue again...