A farmer wears a mask during a rice harvest in Aceh last month. (Antara Photo/Irwansyah Putra)

Gov't Prepares for Possible Food Crisis Post-Pandemic

BY :NUR YASMIN

JUNE 04, 2020

Jakarta. The government is devising plans to ensure food security in the country after the coronavirus pandemic has passed, as the Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO, issued a warning of a looming food crisis in the near future, Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo said. 

"The FAO said after the pandemic, there's a possibility of a food crisis due to a long dry season," Syahrul said in an online press conference on Thursday.

However, he said, Indonesia has enough food supply and that prices had remained stable during Ramadan and Idul Fitri.

"We got through Ramadan and Idul Fitri unscathed. Our food stock is more than adequate," Syahrul said.

Syahrul said the ministry had prepared several plans to face the upcoming dry season, including accelerating simultaneous planting, developing agriculture production facilities and financing agriculture businesses and small-scale farmers.

"We'll provide [the farmers with] seeds, fertilizers and medicines to ensure they can carry out their activities," he said.

"We will explore alternatives to diversify our food products and make use of surplus food reserves in one province to fulfill demand in other provinces. We will also ensure equal distribution of food in rural areas," Syahrul said.

The government this year has been anticipating a long drought, a pest outbreak that usually occurs every five years and a global food crisis.

"We have emergency, temporary and permanent plans. We will continue to modify them according to the warning from FAO," the minister said.

His ministry also has the job of ensuring there's enough supply of basic food products – rice, corn, shallots, garlic, red chili, beef, chicken, egg, sugar and cooking oil – essential to maintain national food security. 

Syahrul said the country's current rice stock is at 21 million tons, exceeding the 12 million tons needed this year.

The government plans to increase food production by 7 percent.

Meanwhile, Indonesia will also continue exporting agricultural commodities, including oil, coffee, cocoa and tea.

"There are no restrictions on export. On the contrary, the president said we should strengthen it by exporting more agricultural products," the minister said.

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