Wednesday, September 3, 2014

National workshop focuses on raising the productivity of Indonesia's unfavorable rice areas

The Indonesian Center for Rice Research (ICRR) held a national workshop on challenges and prospects for technology development in drought- and flood-prone rice ecosystems during the 40th anniversary of the Indonesian Agency for Agricultural Research and Development on August 19-20.

At the workshop, scientists from ICRR and the International Rice Research Institute; researchers from the Assessment Institute for Agricultural Technology, the Indonesian Swampland Agriculture Research Institute, and the Indonesian Agricultural Environment Research Institute; extension officers and farmers discussed problems, constraints, existing practices, and possible recommendations for growing rice in unfavorable rice areas.

“Though the government reportedly has new programs to expand agricultural areas this intervention may still be limited because of rapid conversion of land for industrial or commercial uses,” said Dr. Indrastuti Rumanti, a scientist at ICRR. “So another important strategy is to increase the productivity of unfavorable rice areas through breeding and cultivation programs instead.”

ICRR's acting director Ir. Made Jana Mejaya also said that the workshop had been a good opportunity for all partners to come and understand each other, discuss, and agree jointly on what to do next. “It would be a big challenge to continue the network,” said Dr. Mejaya. “But if we can do it, then it will greatly improve rice production through knowledge sharing,”

According to Mr. Cartim and Mr. Hambali, two farmers who participated in the event, they were able to get new information such as specific varieties for a particular area and also best management practices for different agroecosystems. Not every farmer could get this opportunity, they said.

Drought is a major constraint affecting the rainfed lowlands of Indonesia, especially in northern Sumatra, southern Sulawesi, eastern Java, and Nusa Tenggara. Flooding, on the other hand, predominantly affects swampy areas, which spread to southern Sumatra and Kalimantan. Farmers living in those areas usually own a minimum of one hectare compared with those living in more favorable lands, who usually own less than a hectare.

Moreover, this is also becoming a problem in irrigated areas because of the bad condition of irrigation channels, and silting of the rivers surrounding the paddies. Around 80 million—more than half of the country’s 132.57 million people living in rural areas—are estimated to be directly affected by these stresses in the rainfed lowlands.

The national workshop was supported by the IFAD-Drought project under the Consortium for Unfavorable Rice Environments.


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