Contradictory data have caused food imports during harvest time in the past, or gross overestimation that led to import bans during scarcity. (Antara Photo/Nova Wahyudi)

New Agriculture Minister Promises Food Data Integration Within First 100 Days in Office

BY :ARNOLDUS KRISTIANUS

NOVEMBER 11, 2019

Jakarta. Indonesia will start using a single set of data, instead of several compiled from many sources, for its food production and distribution next year to remove the main source of confusions and disagreements that often plagued policies of ministries and institutions in the past.

"Next year, we will have the latest agricultural data for discussion starting from the technical meeting," Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto told Beritasatu at the weekend. 

The Agriculture Ministry and the Trade Ministry used to collect separate data on the same commodities to formulate policies. They also used data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS).

This often resulted in contradictory policies, such as rice imports during harvest time or an overestimation of rice production that conversely led to no import and scarcity in the domestic market. 

The current administration, Airlangga said, intended to stop the disarray by collecting and using the same data to provide more clarity when creating policies. 

Airlangga said all agricultural data will be sourced from the Agrarian Affairs and Spatial Planning Ministry. The data will be used to estimate how much land will be needed for food production across the country each year. 

BPS will be in charge of collecting the data in coordination with the Agriculture Ministry.

Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo said the food data integration will start from the central government and trickle down to regional governments.

Syahrul said the president, governors, district and subdistrict heads and even village heads must all use the same data. 

"At the moment, every ministry and institution uses its own data. [Our target is] for everyone to use the same data within 100 days," Syahrul said when questioned what his priority will be for his first three months in office. 

Another priority of his ministry is to decide which area in which region of Indonesia should be farmed and harvested. The Agriculture Ministry will consider the unpredictability of weather patterns and the probability of natural disasters using satellite imagery and artificial intelligence to make the decision.

"We must ensure that we can feed 260 million people. If other countries can use artificial intelligence, why can't we?" Syahrul said. 

Syahrul, a politician from the National Democratic Party (Nasdem), said the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs will have the final say on any agricultural policies, including exports and imports, based on the integrated data. 

"Everyone is involved. We must look at the conditions and anticipate what will happen. We must remember we need immediate solutions for food problems since they directly affect the people. This is why everything has to be out in the open and decided together," Syahrul said.

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