In 2018, the Statistics Indonesia (BPS) recorded that the agricultural raw land area in Indonesia reached 7.1 million hectares or decreased by 650.000 hectares from 7.75 million hectares as recorded in the 2013 census data.
However, after the Ministry of Agrarian Affairs and Spatial Planning/National Land Agency (ATR/BPN) conducted field verification, in February 2020 the Ministry of Agriculture (Kementan) reported that the national rice field area reached 7.46 million hectares in 2019.
The increasing figure minimizes the shrinkage when the area sampling framework (KSA) was first announced in 2018. Based on the latest verification data, there has been a decline by 290.000 hectares of rice field area in Indonesia over the last six years.
According to the Minister of Agriculture Syahrul Yasin Limpo (SYL), the scarcity of agricultural land is caused by the ease of permits for the conversion of agricultural land to nonfarm land. This is because food agriculture land, especially rice fields, constitutes land with low rents.
In 2021, the Ministry of Agriculture will continue to fight any attempts that lead to the conversion of agricultural land functions. The Ministry urges farmers or land owners not to release their land for any reason.
“Don’t let agriculture become a scarcity in the future. Don’t let our children never recognize or never see farms,” said SYL on March 21, 2021, as quoted from tempo.co.
Land conversion, he said, is something that cannot be underestimated. The shrinkage of agricultural land to non farm land affects food productivity.
“If the conversion of land function is allowed, our people will be short of food in the future. There may be housing, hotels, or industry, but those must not destroy the existing agricultural land,” he asserted.
Related to the decline of agricultural land area, the Director General of Agricultural Infrastructure and Facilities (PSP) Sarwo Edhy said that there are currently 18 provinces which have regulated the LP2B (Sustainable Food Agricultural Land) in the Regional Regulations (Perda) of Regional Spatial Plans (RTRW). Moreover, there are 17 Provinces which have stipulated a separate LP2B.
“In total, there are 237 districts/cities which have stipulated LP2B in the Perda of RTRW, and 10 districts/cities which have stipulated a separated LP2B regulations, with a total area of 5,917,491 hectares that has been arranged,” Sarwo Edhy explained.
Researcher at the Center of Social Economics and Agricultural Policy, Achmad Suryana, said the phenomenon of agricultural land conversion is a serious threat that may disrupt national food security and nutrient availability.
According to him, the food productivity amount for three food commodities such as rice, corn, and soybean are experiencing a decline over the last five years.
During that period, rice productivity has decreased by 1.08 percent. Meanwhile for corn, the productivity growth only reached 0.48 percent in the last five years. In fact, the soybean harvest has experienced a decline of up to 2.66 percent.
“The formula for domestic food production is simple, the harvested land area is multiplied by productivity. Therefore, if the land conversion is carried out on a large scale, the agricultural land area will definitely decrease and the productivity of agricultural products will automatically decline,” said Achmad.
Food productivity, he added, is related to nutritional needs. If food productivity has decreased, then the food system will be affected as a whole.
How the Food Security and Agriculture Agency Boosts Productivity
The local governments, both provincial and municipal through their food and agricultural service agencies, have different strategies so that the agricultural productivity in Indonesia continues to increase amid the phenomenon of agricultural land scarcity.
The Food Security and Agriculture Agency (Dispangtan) of Malang City boosts rice productivity through the Technical Guidance (Bimtek) program with the use appropriate technology on rice plants in narrow land.
Chief of Dispangtan Ade Herawanto, represented by Secretary of Dispangtan Eny Handayani, explained the assistance is carried out to maximize the production amid the significantly decreasing area of agricultural land.
In 2021, the agricultural land of Malang City would decrease to 995 hectares from the previous 1,040 hectares. This is the impact of a shift in urban development where agricultural land gradually converts into buildings.
“Even so, the agricultural sector is a crucial thing for the food resilience of a region and even a country. For that, we are thankful to people who still want to survive in agriculture,” said Eny as quoted from jatimnews.com, March 25, 2021.
Rohmad Budiono from the Agricultural Technology Research Center (BPTP) explained that the decline in agricultural productivity is affected by many factors. Among them are the use of inappropriate technology, the high number of pests, and the impact of extreme weather.
According to Rohmad, farmers nowadays have sufficient access to use agricultural technology. But this must be accompanied by an understanding and selection of the right technology. The selection of the right technology will contribute to the increase of production.
Further, he said, the determination of the use of rice varieties is also a determining factor in harvesting success. In this case, the INPARI 33 variety is not recommended because it is difficult to knock down even though using machines. Despite its tolerance to disease, it is difficult to treat.
Among the rice varieties, Rohmad continued, the recommended one is INPARI 30. This variety has high yield and production, with a decent resistance to pests. However, there is a main challenge coming from the birds that eat the rice plants.
Aside from the Bimtek, the Agricultural Group (Poktan) and Farmers Group Association (Gapoktan) of Malang City also get assistance for seeds and agricultural machine tools in the form of cultivators.
Contrast to the Malang City government, the Food Agriculture and Horticulture service agency of West Kalimantan Province increases agricultural productivity by mapping agricultural production centers that will be developed through agricultural programs.
“We continue to focus on regional-based agricultural development or production centers for both food and horticulture. With the existence of these centers, we will carry out intensification activities to increase food productivity in West Kalimantan,” said Chief of Food Agriculture and Horticulture Agency of West Kalimantan Province, Florentinus Anum, March 14, 2021, as quoted from distan.kalbarprov.go.id.
The attempt to increase food productivity, he said, is not necessarily made by opening new land. Just use the existing land and do the processing well. In this case, field agents have an important role to motivate farmers to produce properly
“We have to re-maximize the importance for our agents at the fields to provide full motivation to the farmers, because we are still dependent on self-subsistence or farmers in carrying out the planting,” he said.
For rice plants, the West Kalimantan Provincial Government is targeting rice productivity to reach 3 tons per hectare from the planting target of 337,455 hectares and the harvest target of 311.00 hectares. For 2021, the rice production is targeting to reach 885,000 tons of GKG.
Meanwhile, the Agricultural Extension and Development Agency (BPPSDMP) of the Ministry of Agriculture continues to strengthen the capacity of extension agents for the empowerment of farmers all over Indonesia. Therefore, farmers are able to apply recommendations for technological innovation on food crops, especially rice.
The effort by the BPPSDMP is carried out by the Integrated Participatory Development and Management of Irrigation Project (IPDMIP) in 74 districts in 16 provinces. This covers 875,249 hectares or 778 irrigation areas and 330,037 hectares of rehabilitated irrigation networks.
“In accordance with the objectives of IPDMIP, as a government project implemented in irrigation area, is to support the realization of food security by promoting a sustainable agriculture,” said Head of BPPSDMP Dedi Nursyamsi on April 14, 2021 as quoted from republika.co.id.
In its implementation, he said, IPDMIP empowers human resources, facilities and irrigation infrastructure with the support of consultants. The goal is to support the implementation of activities and productivity increase, food security achievement, and farmers welfare.
The moves boost the enthusiasm of farmers in Rote Ndao Regency, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) province, to harvest in a number of sub-districts, such as Poktan Donggo at Oenitas Village, West Rote District, with the harvest potential of 20 hectares so that they are able to be self-sufficient in food.
According to Dedi Nursyamsi, this is in line with the instructions and directions of the Minister of Agriculture Syahrul Yasin Limpo that farmers are ‘heroes of food’ who support the fulfillment of food for 270 million people, and have taken concrete steps to ensure people’s food.
“The Covid-19 pandemic is a big challenge that we must face, apart from health, food security and national stability assurance. We, in the agricultural sector, must work hard to meet the expectations of all people,” said the Minister of Agriculture.