Jakarta. Head of the East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) provincial Agriculture and Plantation Service Yohanes Tay Ruba said the province would continue the program of opening of new rice fields in 2017.
"Currently we are conducting rationalization and preparation of the program for the opening of new rice fields to be implemented in 2017," Yohanes said on Saturday.
He said implementation of the program this year could not be carried out as expected over delay in the disbursement of General Allocation Fund (DAU) from the central government.
Until now 1,960 hectares of new rice field had been opened or falling short of the target of 2,709 hectares for this year, he said.
Around 224.22 hectares of the new rice fields have been ready for cultivation, he added.
"We hope the rest could be carried out with work starting early next year, that farmers could increase their rice production," he said.
Yohanes delay in the implementation of the program was recorded in a number of areas including in the regencies of Kupang, Sumba Timur, and Flores such as regencies of Ende and Manggarai Barat.
The regency of Ende was to have Rp11,538,089,786 in the delayed DAU each month from September to December.
Kupangs delayed share of the DAU in the same periods was Rp25,466,413,828; and the regency of Sumba Timur was to have Rp11,532,251,253 and the regency of Manggarai Barat was to receive a disbursement of Rp18,071,885,782 each month during the four months period.
Yohanes said the opening of new rices fields in NTT so far had been carried out through cooperation with the military with solders sent to the fields together with the government elucidation team to encourage the farmers in expanding their rice fields.
"We appreciate the assistance offered by the military for the farmers to increase their productivity," he said.
He said he hoped such cooperation would continue that when the budget fund had been available the program to open more new rice fields could be implemented as expected.
Earlier this week President Joko Widodo said the country would not import rice in the rest of this year.
Agriculture Minister Andi Amran Sulaiman has said there would be no scarcity in rice supply in Indonesia as the country is predicted to have a surplus of 400,000 tons in production this year.
The minister said based on a survey by the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) the countrys rice production rose significantly this year.
The survey said planting areas in July-September, 2016 reached 1 million hectares up significantly from an average of 500,000 hectares in earlier years.
Based on an assumption that a hectare would turn out 6 tons of unhulled rice, the countrys production of unhulled rice would total 6 million tons or equivalent to 3 million tons of milled rice as against a monthly consumption of 2.6 million tons.
Therefore, the countrys rice stock is sufficient despite the extreme weather such as foods that damaged rice crops in the country this year.
"In addition, irrigation systems have been repaired in various areas in Indonesia in cooperation with the Public Works Ministry," Andi said.(Tempo.co)