The government announced that the total area of paddy fields decreased from 7.75 million hectares in 2013 to 7.1 million ha in 2018. The decrease in the paddy field areas of about 8 percent happened outside Java, while the paddy fields in Java increased by 124,445 ha.
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The government’s efforts to improve data on rice production have led to a new era in food planning. The audit step needs to be expanded to other commodities.
The government, after a meeting which was presided over by Vice President Jusuf Kalla on Oct. 22, announced that the total area of paddy fields decreased from 7.75 million hectares in 2013 to 7.1 million ha in 2018. The decrease in the paddy field areas of about 8 percent happened outside Java, while the paddy fields in Java increased by 124,445 ha.
The impact of the fall in paddy fields is a result of the low potential of paddy harvests in 2018 to 10.9 million ha, far below the projection by the Agriculture Ministry of about 15.99 million ha. Therefore, the rice production potential also fell to 56.54 million tons of unhusked rice from the ministry projection of 83.03 million tons.
Inaccuracy in rice production data has occurred since the late 1990s and at times the data has worsened. The government has tried to correct the data at least three times, although it was not announced because of its consequences on Indonesia\'s macroeconomic data.
Even though we expected there was the existence of inaccurate rice production data, the official announcement by the government is quite surprising and encouraging. It is said to be encouraging because accurate data can be used as the basis for coming up with good and targeted development planning.
Accuracy of data on agricultural land areas and food production is increasingly urgent because agricultural land areas continue to decline as they are converted into non-agricultural purposes. At the same time, we are faced with the problems of the rising population, the rise of land demand for non-agricultural activities and climate change. Therefore, we hope the government will also audit overall food production data, in addition to paddy field areas and rice production.
The impact of climate change needs to be monitored and dealt with immediately. The warming temperature of the Earth’s surface is expected to increase pest disturbances, in addition to leading to change in climate patterns. In reality, agriculture relies heavily on rainfall. Moreover, the rising population amid climate change is expected to affect food availability in the international market.
With accurate food data, future food planning is expected to improve. Food production planning should not only stop with production on agricultural land – it should also focus on how food reaches consumers who are classified based on income level, lifestyle and geography.
We have Law No. 41 of 2009 on the protection of sustainable agricultural land, which clearly mandates the government to protect and provide agricultural land sustainably, increase prosperity and empower farmers, increase employment standards and maintain ecological balance.