Jakarta. The Indonesian government has launched a farming "digitization" project in West Java province, which may increase rice output by at least 20 percent, officials said on Monday (09/07).
The project is currently being tested with thousands of farmers in nine rice-producing regencies as President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration seeks to boost domestic food production. A regency is a governmental administration region below a province.
"The goal is to transform farming, which is still quite traditional, to be more modern and to teach farmers to be agro-entrepreneurs," Wahyu Kuncoro, a deputy minister at the Ministry of State Enterprises told reporters.
Indonesia's rice output growth has been slowing in recent years and yields have declined to 5.15 tons of unmilled rice per hectare in 2017, from 5.34 tons per hectare in 2015.
This year, the government issued import permits for 1 million tons of rice to help control rice prices, the country's main food staple.
State-controlled telecommunications firm Telekomunikasi Indonesia, or Telkom, has developed a digital platform which collects farmer and farm land data which will be used to speed up the process of distribution of subsidized loans for farmers and for applications for farm insurance. Digitalization refers to using digital technologies to change the way a business functions.
The platform will be further developed to include a marketplace application where farmers can order fertilizer and pesticides online, as well as sell their products, said David Bangun, a director at Telkom.
The Ministry of State Enterprises has also set up offices in the nine regencies to train farmers in modern farming methods, as well as to facilitate the direct distribution of farming supplies and sales to state food procurement agency, Bulog.
When enough data has been collected, the digital platform can also help to predict future output, David added.
"If this model is proven beneficial for the farmers, we will apply this to other rice production centers across the country," Kuncoro said, adding that the project may also be applicable to the cultivation of other commodities.